The softball team concluded regular season play with three SUNYAC matchups within the last week against SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Fredonia and Buffalo State.
On Thursday, April 24, the Lady Hawks completed a suspended game first played on April 11 against SUNY Oneonta. The Lady Red Dragons held on to a 6-3 lead that it had built in the third inning when rain suspended play.
When the game continued 13 days later, this time played at the University of Albany, SUNY Oneonta had held their lead with a run added on by the Lady Hawks and won 6-4.
The Lady Hawks split a home doubleheader against SUNY Fredonia on Friday, April 25.
In the first game, RBI singles from second-year pitcher Katie Rutcofsky and third-year outfielder Noelle Grande decreased the Lady Hawks’ deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth-inning.
The Lady Blue Devils added two more runs on a two-run single by third-year utility player Cherise Gunnell to make the score 5-2.
New Paltz could only score one run in the bottom of the ninth-inning as the Lady Blue Devils took the first game 5-3.
The Lady Hawks fought back in the second game of the doubleheader as they scored 10 runs to defeat Fredonia 10-1.
The following day, the Lady Hawks fell victim to Buffalo State in both games of a home doubleheader.
In the first game, Buffalo State had scored nine unanswered runs through the first three innings. That would be all the runs they needed to defeat the Lady Hawks 9-1 in five innings of play.
In the nightcap, Buffalo State scored two runs in the first inning, off a double by third-year catcher Kate Brownell.
The Lady Hawks answered back and scored two runs in the bottom of the third.
The International Tie Breaker Rule went into effect in the top of the 10th.
Third-year infielder Jenna Clarke was placed on second and would eventually be brought home by fourth-year outfielder Shelly Maggard to earn Buffalo State a 3-2 victory.
In New Paltz’s half of the 10th-inning fourth-year Captain Chelsea Kull was placed on second base, a sacrifice bunt advanced her to third. No one was able to bring her home, on a hitless bottom of the 10th for the Hawks.
Rutcofsky was the losing pitcher in the nightcap, throwing 10 innings and allowing six hits and three runs.
Head Coach Brittany Robinson said the weather did not affect the team playing-wise.
“I think they did a good job of bearing through it,” she said. “But now, everything has kind of calmed down as we head into SUNYACs.”
New Paltz will go into the tournament as the No. 6 seed. Only the top-six teams make the tournament.
Despite having a 10-22 overall record, and 7-11 record in SUNYAC play, Robinson said the record doesn’t necessarily affect how good the team can be.
“We beat Cortland for the first time since 1996, and we beat Oneonta who is the top seed in the tournament,” she said. “I think that we’ve been inconsistent throughout the season. But I think that this tournament is a good place for us to be in because it’s win one game at a time.”
Third-year outfielder Juliette Verso said the team’s record only motivates them more.
“If anything, our record only motivates us more to win games and beat teams who have beaten us before, because we are absolutely capable of beating any team in this conference,” she said.
Robinson said the team is going to work on some things that came up as issues over the past week and a half.
“There are some things that need to be addressed on defense and some baserunning issues that at the beginning of the season and towards the middle of the season, it’s not as important,” she said. “Come playoff time, runs are more and more hard to come by.”
Verso said making the playoffs is a great feeling.
“It just shows that all of the lifting, and two-a-day practices at 7 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. have paid off,” she said. “It’s been a long road for the team, as athletes and as students. What people don’t realize is that softball is game based on fundamentals, but played at hyper speed.
The Lady Hawks compete next week at the double-elimination SUNYAC Tournament from Thursday, May 1 to Saturday, May 3, in Oneonta, N.Y. New Paltz, the No. 6 seed, faces top-seeded and host Oneonta at 9 a.m. on Thursday.