The softball team’s SUNYAC Tournament run ended shortly after two losses to SUNY Cortland and the College at Brockport.
The Lady Hawks finished the season with an overall record of 20-19, while going 11-7 in conference play. They also earned a berth in the SUNYAC Tournament for the first time since the 2010 season.
Head Coach Tony Ciccarello said he is proud of the improvements the team has made this season.
“I don’t want to focus on how it ended, I want to focus on what this team accomplished this year,” Ciccarello said. “They went from 14 wins to 20, six conference wins to 11, sweeping Plattsburgh, sweeping Buff State.”
Despite the disappointment of the season coming to an end, a positive from the SUNYAC Tournament was second-year outfielder Alex Verso being named to the All-Tournament Team, Ciccarello said. In the two tournament games she went 2-4 with two doubles, two walks and one RBI.
Ciccarello said he is proud of how Verso performed in important games when her teammates needed her.
“She stepped up in the big show,” Ciccarello said. “She had two big hits for us, really big hits. She made some great plays defensively. She really did a great job.”
Fourth-year Captain Melissa Liotta is the team’s lone graduating player, and second-year outfielder Noelle Grande said Liotta was a key component to the team’s success this season.
“She led our team on the field and off the field,” Grande said. “As our team captain, she organized team lifts and team runs when we didn’t have a coach. When the season started, she contributed to the team immensely with her solid fielding and clutch hitting every outing. We will miss her.”
Ciccarello had a special relationship with Liotta because he recruited her out of high school, he said.
“Melissa is a special person,” Ciccarello said. “I’ve known her longer than these few months due to recruiting her out of high school. Defensively, she made plays, a lot of big, big plays. Offensively, she had a lot of clutch hits. She led them by example.”
Grande also commends Ciccarello for having an easy transition from coaching at SUNY Geneseo for 11 years to coming to New Paltz and having a successful first season.
“He came in, made a few adjustments and left alone some other aspects of our game,” Grande said. “He’s a great coach. We plan to get to know him and his style of softball even better this fall season.”
Ciccarello said he is excited to be able to spend the offseason with the team this year to help them improve and further learn his system.
“All year I had a little catchphrase, ‘getting better every pitch,’” Ciccarello said. “We’re into 2014 now and it’s ‘take the next step.’ It’s going to be awesome. I’ll work with them in the fall and things will get better because the more you work stuff, the better it gets.”
With 14 of the 15 players on this year’s team returning for next season, Grande expects to make the SUNYAC Tournament again because of the team’s strong work ethic.
“Since we are returning most of our lineup from last season, I expect the team to return to the tournament,” Grande said. “It’s not going to be easy, but all of the girls on the team have a really good work ethic.”
Ciccarello is already counting down until next season.
“We’re about 120 days before fall ball and 250 away from the spring season,” Ciccarello said.