The SUNY New Paltz Softball team will be under new leadership this year.
After Denise Marchese left for an assiting coaching job at University of Rhode island, New Paltz welcome Tony Ciccarello, who has spent the last 11 seasons in the same role for SUNY Geneseo.
Despite being named coach midyear, Ciccarello said he is familiar with his new players from his time coaching at Geneseo and has expectations that his team will not only improve, but will also make the SUNYAC Tournament.
“I told them right away, our expectations are to play better than they’ve played in the past and to reach the SUNYAC Tournament,” Ciccarello said. “I coached against them, so I know they have talent.”
Second-year outfielder Marissa Monaco is enjoying how both Ciccarello and the players are listening to each other, she said. His openness toward incorporating players’ ideas, especially as a new coach, fosters a relationship in which the players also listen to his suggestions and adjust their ways as well, she said.
“He has been around the game for a long time and knows what he is doing,” Monaco said. “He is professional and a great listener. If we have suggestions he is always willing to listen and if he agrees he will make changes.”
One area that Ciccarello wants his team to improve on is playing under pressure, he said.
“I put them under pressure at practice a lot. I think that’s something that they need more of, so that once we get into the game and they’re playing under pressure, it’s a been there, done that type of thing,” Ciccarello said. “We’ll work on skills, of course, but we’re going to put them in live situations.”
Third-year first baseman Chelsea Kull realizes how important it is for the team to be comfortable when tough situations arise, she said.
“If we continue to be put under these pressure situations, we will become used to them and start to thrive under pressure not being phased by them during a real game,” Kull said. “This will help us win more games in the future.”
Ciccarello views Kull, Monaco and fourth-year Melissa Liotta as players that will lead the Hawks’ offense this season, he said.
“Chelsea Kull could become quite the power hitter. Marissa Monaco, her too,” Ciccarello said. “I see them hitting right in the middle of the order. Our one senior, Melissa Liotta, she’s not really a power hitter, but she’s a great contact hitter. We could put her first and she’d do great or we can put her in the middle and she’d do great because she has great technique.”
While he knows who will be leading his offense this season, Ciccarello has yet to see anyone emerge as the ace of the pitching staff, he said.
“It’s going to be pitch by committee for a while,” Ciccarello said. “They’re all going to get their opportunity to step up to be that leader.”
The Hawks’ season opening doubleheader against Farmingdale State College on Saturday, March 9 was cancelled, so they will open up in a doubleheader at the College of Staten Island on Saturday, March 16.