Meet the team

emily johnson

Head Instructor

Emily is the Backstop's founder and fearless leader! She aims to develop confidence and grit in her lessons and players (feel bad A$$, play bad A$$) in hopes of elevating the game of Softball in New England. Emily has played softball her whole life and finished her collegiate career in 2013 earning RIC Softballs MVP award. Not only was she a pitcher in college, but she also was a leader in the Anchorwomen's lineup making the Little East Conference team as a DH her freshman year. Since college, Emily has been coaching travel softball for the Waves for 6 seasons. In addition to travel ball, she has coached high school teams in both assistance coach and pitching coach roles. Emily has given private hitting and pitching lessons for nearly a decade and has seen the sport evolve over the years. She brings innovative drills and techniques to her lessons that allow players at any level to achieve success. Her focus is on players grasping the concepts and truly understanding the "how" and "why" of player movements. Her degree in Elementary Education allows her to differentiate lessons and cater each lesson to that specific player.

Emily is the Backstop's primary instructor for pitching and hitting lessons.

Favorite color: Yellow 

Favorite food: Mexican (tacos are amazing!) and Seafood 

Favorite Quote: "I never lose, I either WIN or I LEARN." 

Bridget Hurlman

Catching, Hitting, and Fielding Instructor

Bridget Hurlman spent the last six seasons as the eighth head coach in Rhode Island softball history from 2015 to 2021. During her time at URI, Hurlman coached one Atlantic 10 All-Conference selection, five All-Rookie picks and two Academic All-Conference honorees. Her players also earned 12 weekly conference honors. In 2016, the team had

the most conference wins in the past fifteen seasons. In 2019, URI had the most over wins it has had in seven seasons.


Hurlman came to Rhode Island after spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Manhattan College. She served as the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach for Head Coach Tom Pardalis. During Hurlman’s time with the Jaspers, Manhattan was 59-45 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, finishing .500 or better in league play in five out of six


A two-time MAAC All-Conference selection and three-time MAAC Academic All-Conference honoree during her playing career at Marist, she served as team captain when the Red Foxes won the MAAC Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2006.

Favorite color: Orange 

Favorite food: Steak and Potatoes

Favorite Quote: "Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck. Your profession is what you're put here on ear to do with such a passion and such intensity that it becomes a spiritual calling." Vincent Van Gogh

Holly Kathios

Catching, Hitting, and Fielding Clinic Instructor

Holly is a recent graduate of Salve Regina where she played softball and was a captain during her senior season when she was named to the CCC All-Conference as a catcher. Her senior season, she batted .306 with only one strikeout in 111 at-bats garnering national recognition in D3 in the category of “Toughest to Strike-Out” where she was ranked #7 in the country. Defensively, Holly committed 2 errors in  218 possible chances. Holly has been passionate about coaching and started working with travel ball teams in the summers while still in college. Since she graduated in May, Holly is now the head coach of the RI Thunder Premier U18 and the new assistant coach at Salve Regina University for this upcoming season. Holly is excited to work at the Backstop and bring her knowledge of hitting, fielding, and catching to the next generation.  


Favorite Color: Blue


Favorite Food: Italian 


Favorite Quote: “Adversity causes some to break, others to break records” 


Erin Bellucci

Pitching & Hitting Instructor

An experienced coach, instructor and a former all-conference pitcher, Erin (Fuoroli) Bellucci is one of The Backstops' highly skilled pitching instructors!

Fuoroli, who played four seasons for regional power Keene State College before graduating in 2007, went 36-13 in the circle with a 1.78 earned run average, earning Little East Conference (LEC) all-conference honors as a junior and senior. While also appearing in the outfield, Fuoroli pushed the Owls to a 117-43 record in her career with NCAA Tournament appearances during her sophomore and senior seasons. She served as a captain as a senior.

Fuoroli has been a pitching instructor since 2003 and has coached at the college level since  2007. The former hurler was an assistant coach at her alma mater in fall 2007, instructed at winter clinics at Keene State from 2003-07 and worked camps at the University of Massachusetts for three years.
She was a pitching coach at Wheaton College for 3 years, Associate Head Coach at Rhode Island College for 2 and was most recently a pitching coach at Johnson and Wales University before having her son last December.


Fuoroli earned a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) All-America honor in 2007. During the summers of 2006 and 2007, Fuoroli competed for USA Athletes International for softball series in Peru and Holland, respectively. The cum laude graduate earned a general science degree from Keene State with a certification in secondary education, received her Masters in School Counseling in 2015 and currently teaches at Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro. She resides in Warwick, RI with her husband Michael and two children Scarlett (3) and Sawyer (1).

Favorite Color: Red

Favorite Food: Thai Food 

Favorite Quote: "There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you." - Unknown


Pitching Instructor

Mandi has over 20 years of coaching experience and is a former assistant coach at Brown University (NCAA DI) and Hood College (NCAA DIII). She served four seasons as the top assistant at Hood College, helping the Blazers make their first-ever appearances in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship in 2006 and 2007. She held responsibilities with the Blazer’s pitchers and outfielders. She has also acted as an instructor at the Georgetown University Softball summer camps, Before entering the collegiate coaching ranks, Mandi was the co-founder/President of both WM Fastpitch Camps & Clinics, LLC and the Maryland Xplosion Softball Program.  She also coached softball at both Gaithersburg (MD) and Crystal Lake (IL) South High Schools. Mandi spent 15 years as a physical education and health teacher. She offers her students a unique teaching perspective, bringing her expertise as a former K-12 educator to her instructional approach.  She also served as an athletic trainer at Illinois Wesleyan University (NCAA DIII) and at Illinois State University (NCAA DI). 


Mandi's playing days include being selected as a two-time Team MVP, Illinois Skyway Collegiate All- Conference 1st team selection, NJCAA Region IV All-Star team selection, Region IV All-Star game MVP (1998) and Disney's Wide World of Sports NJCAA Spring Training Tournament MVP while at McHenry College (IL).  Mandi finished her career as McHenry’s single-season record holder for ERA (0.41).  Prior to college, Mandi was a two-time Fox Valley Conference (IL) All-Conference 1st team selection and

Chicago Tribune/Northwest Herald All-Area player in 1994.


Mandi graduated from Illinois State University in 2001 with degrees in Physical Education (Kinesiology) and Physical Education (Athletic Training).  She resides in East Greenwich, RI with her husband Whit, four children and dog (Wrigley) and is a huge Chicago Cubs fan.


Favorite Color: Green

Favorite Food: (Real) Mexican Food

Favorite Quote: “Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.” 

– Arthur Ashe

Sarah Gunderson

Pitching & Hitting Instructor

Sarah pitched from 2016-2020  at the University of Rhode Island and is now playing a 5th year at Providence college. She was an A10 rookie of the week in 2017 and 2 time A10 player of the week during her career at URI. She studied marketing and is working towards her MBA at PC. Sarah has a passion for developing confidence in every player she works with. 


Favorite Color: Red

Favorite Food: Penne Alla Vodka

Favorite Quote: "Be Big"

Jordan Mchale

Hitting & Fielding Instructor

Jordan is a recent graduate from Southern Connecticut State University where she studied Sport Management with a minor in Marketing. Currently she is pursuing her master's at the University of New Haven. She played for the SCSU Owls where she made the NE10 Weekly Honor Roll as well as named to the ECAC Academic Honor Roll. She was also named the 2016 Cox RI Player of the Year.


Jordan is excited to pass down her knowledge and experiences to passionate young athletes. 


Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Food: Italian Grinder

Favorite Quote: "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." -Babe Ruth

Stephanie Menard

Hitting & Fielding Instructor 

A four year NCAA Division II athlete at Assumption College, Stephanie was

 known for being a strong defensive first baseman for the Greyhounds as well as a leader offensively. Stephanie ended her career having played in 148 games with a career batting AVG of .315 SLG .506 and OBP of .382.  During her tenure she was named to NE10 All-Conference teams as well as Assumption College Student-Athlete Honor Roll. Stephanie graduated with a Biology degree and is currently a Biology Teacher at Vets .


Prior to Assumption, Stephanie played four years of varsity softball and three years of varsity basketball at Cranston High School West... Played her entire senior season at third base without making a single error...Led her high school team in home runs in her senior year... Named to the All-Academic team in 2014... Maintained a 4.1 GPA in high school as a member of the National Honor Society.

Favorite Color: Blue


Favorite Food: Pizza


Favorite Quote: “It's not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up”-Vince Lombardi

Kasey Ayer

Hitting, Catching, & Fielding Instructor

A four-year starter behind the plate at Nichols College, Kasey was known for her defensive consistency in the CCC. Kasey has always been comfortable being the eyes of the field, after spending the entirety of her career catching since she started AAU at 12 years old. Being involved in every play, working to keep batters off balance in pitch calls, and the grind of the position was always the motive behind her growth and work ethic. 


In her freshmen season at Nichols, Kasey led the team in slugging percentage (.545), was second in on base percentage (.444) third in hits (22) and finished the freshmen season batting .400. By her senior year, she was named Senior Leader amongst two other senior teammates. Kasey was also a four-year Commonwealth Coast Conference Academic All-Conference member, studying marketing and sports management and graduating with a 3.9 GPA in both programs of study. 

Favorite color: Light Blue 

Favorite food: All of it!

Favorite Quote: "Pressure is a Privilege"

Crista San antonio

Hitting and Fielding Instructor

Crista spent 4 years at Providence College from 2016-2020 as a skillful infielder. She studied Elementary and Special Education with a minor in Business Administration. She is taking her 5th year to continue her career with the Friars while completing a master’s degree in Higher Education. After learning the middle infield positions her freshman year of college, it landed her a starting position at second base. Through her time at Providence College she earned the Helen Bert award her senior year in honor of the Former Associate Athletic Director for her hard work on the field and in the classroom. She also earned a spot on the Big East All-Academic team in 2019 and 2020. Crista has a passion for growing the game of softball and hopes to instill her passion into every player she works with.

Favorite Color: Blue 

Favorite Food: Pizza

Favorite Quote: “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter


zeena barbarita

Operations Coordinator & Fielding Instructor

Zeena helps us keep things moving at The Backstop and ensures all things Backstop run smoothly. Her passion for the sport and the industry runs deep. She is currently the Assistant Coach for Waves 18U Showcase team, and has been around the game of softball ever since the age of 10. Zeena played both in high school and college. At LaSalle Academy she played an integral part in helping the Rams to their first ever State Championship in school history. She played in college for three years at Salve Regina University where in her junior year she helped them to a regular season CCC title and earn 2nd place in the CCC Championship. Her knowledge of the outfield position completes The Backstop’s well rounded staff. She is an integral part of the Backstop’s clinics and all the behind-the-scenes work that takes place to ensure we can train the next generation of softball athletes.

Favorite Color: Purple

Favorite Food: Chinese

Favorite Quote: "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again period. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett