Softball Looks to Clinch Playoff Berth

Third-year pitcher Lauren Cappello currently leads the team with a record of 14-10 and an ERA of 2.21. She leads the SUNYAC in wins and is fifth in ERA. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

The softball team lost three out of four State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) matches over the weekend, but its one win came against then-No. 18 SUNY Cortland. It was the Red Dragons’ first conference loss all season.

“A coach couldn’t be any happier when you know your team left it all on the field and played a great game against a huge rival and nationally-ranked softball team,” Hawks head coach Samantha Miller said. “Cortland is always a tough competitor, but after we beat them, that being their only loss in conference, it’s quite motivating. If we see them again, going into those games our kids have more of the confidence they need and it’s comforting to know that when you show up to play, anything can happen.”

The victory against Cortland came on Sunday, April 23, with the Hawks winning game one of a doubleheader by a score of 6-1. It was New Paltz’s first win over the Red Dragons since April 5, 2014 and their first road victory over Cortland in 23 years to the day on April 23, 1994. It also marked the team’s first win against a nationally-ranked opponent since March 23, 2013, when the Hawks beat No. 6 Eastern Connecticut State by a score of 6-4.

“It’s my first win against Cortland,” Hawks fourth-year outfielder Fallon Spriggs said. “It helps all of us with confidence especially after Saturday in Oswego where we struggled. Beating Cortland showed us we can compete against any team.”

Third-year pitcher Lauren Cappello pitched a complete-game in the circle, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out three. First-year outfielder Julia DiSpigna led the offense with a 3-for-4 performance, including a double and two RBIs. Third-year outfielder Taylor Leonette also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Second-year shortstop Taylor LaFrance and second-year second baseman Shannon Fee each recorded one RBI in the contest.

It was a much different story in the second game, with the Hawks losing by a score of 16-0 in five innings. Cortland clinched the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC and will host the conference tournament for the fourth-straight season.

Prior to the Cortland matchup, New Paltz dropped two games against SUNY Oswego on Saturday, April 22, losing by scores of 9-2 and 5-1.

On Wednesday, April 26 the Hawks swept a doubleheader against The Sage Colleges in their last nonconference matchup of the season. New Paltz won game one 1-0 and game two 6-3. The wins bumped the Hawks’ record to 17-17.

In game one, Fee drove in the only run of the game with an RBI single in the fourth inning that drove in third-year outfielder Julia Perhacs. Cappello pitched the complete-game shutout, giving up just two hits while walking none and striking out five.

Game two saw fourth-year catcher Nicole DeCosta hitting a grand slam to lead the Hawks to victory. Cappello pitched all seven innings in relief, giving up just one run on two hits while striking out two.

Cappello currently leads the SUNYAC in innings pitched with 161 1/3 and wins with 14. Her 2.21 ERA is good for fifth in the conference.

The team will conclude its regular season on the road against SUNY Oneonta on Saturday, April 29. The doubleheader will have big playoff implications, as both New Paltz and Oneonta are currently tied for second in the SUNYAC along with Oswego and SUNY Plattsburgh.

“Those Oneonta games are huge,” DeCosta said. “But we just need to do the same thing by playing our best game and focusing on what it is we can bring to the table. Ultimately, we are focusing on how we can come out on top with a sweep before heading into postseason play.”