Members of the SUNY New Paltz Softball team said they came into this season with a myriad of new talent and the odds stacked against them. Head Coach Denise Marchese said that while the team may have fallen short of their own expectations, they definitely impressed their opponents towards the end of the spring 2011 season.
“I think we definitely surprised people at the end of the season,” Marchese said. “We started off well and then had a bit of a lull mid-season where we had a difficult time coming back from some of the deficits that we faced with some losses. But in those last two weeks, I think the girls played really well and surprised a lot of people and I was happy to finally see that we were clicking on and off of the field.”
The softball squad finished the season with a record of 15-19 and a 6-12 SUNYAC record.
The season ended with a doubleheader split against SUNYAC rival Geneseo and the Lady Hawks fell short of making the SUNYAC tournament. Despite this, the team is happy with how their small group of players performed.
“I really feel that this was one of the most exciting seasons we have had,” fourth-year captain Courtney Costello said. “We were a young team and people didn’t expect much from us and we competed and beat some really good teams. We had a hardworking, good group of girls so I would say it was a good year and the years will keep getting better every year.”
The team was two spots shorts of making the SUNYAC tournament after a loss to SUNY Brockport on Saturday, April 29. Marchese said that the team did a good job arranging the puzzle pieces to fill vacancies in the lineup.
“I think they were working with exactly what we had,” said Marchese. “We had a couple of trouble spots on the field that really got to us during some of our games.”
Costello said player injuries also contributed to the adversities the team had throughout the season.
“We had a small squad this year and had many injuries which hurt us a little bit,” said Costello.
While the team missed the mark for SUNYACs, individual players set new program records and made their own achievements.
Fourth-year captain Jillian Gallagher claimed both program records for stolen bases and career batting average. The team was also second overall in team batting amongst SUNYAC competitors this season, something Marchese said the team did right the entire season.
Marchese also said that she wishes she could have more time to work with both Gallagher and Costello, but hopes that there will still be a chance to work with them once they finish up their softball careers at New Paltz.
“I would love to have more time with them, but you just keep coaching for 15 years and you see that it’s a cycle and that’s just what you have to do,” said Marchese. “I’m actually looking and hoping to retain Jill to coach some individual players next season as a volunteer.”
For the next season, Marchese said she has a large recruiting class of “quality talent” coming in for the spring and that the team will have to work hard and stay in shape during the summer for fall try-outs. Costello said that with all of the new talent that is coming in, the team’s future looks bright.
“I think next year will be a better year because coach did a great job recruiting new, good players,” said Costello. “Having a bigger team and experienced players are going to greatly improve the program. We have many great players coming back into the program and a great coach coming back so I really believe the team would improve next year just because most of them have gained a lot of experience and confidence as our season was ending.”
Marchese’s and the team’s goal at the beginning of this season was to have a playoff berth. While this didn’t go the way the group had hoped for, Marchese said she is very proud of the team for what was accomplished this spring.
“I think the important thing is that they worked very hard this season and were very committed to the program. I think that while we fell a little short, we still had a good season and the girls should be very proud of themselves for what they did this spring.”