Despite what the temperature may imply, spring is right around the corner, and with it comes the new season for women's softball. Head coach Tony Ciccarello's Knights finished last season with a 22-17 record (13-7 SUNYAC), good enough for fifth place in the SUNYAC division. They defeated Cortland in the first round before bowing out to Buffalo State and Cortland. But Ciccarello is optimistic about this year's team, and there are a few reasons why.
One is senior Laura Skalaski, who finished last season with a team-best .337 batting average, four home runs and 15 RBIs. She was rewarded for this standout performance by being named the sole Knights representative on the All-SUNYAC team. Other players with impressive seasons that will be returning this year are sisters Kerry and Audrey Kuhn. Kerry, a sophomore, had a .316 batting average as well as a 2.09 earned run average on the mound; Audrey, now a senior, put up her own admirable marks with a 2.39 ERA and 18 RBIs.
Ciccarello, who has a 141-61 record over five seasons at Geneseo, is confident that the team has only improved since last year, mentioning that the Knights will have better hitting and pitching on the 2007 team. "There is a good mix of veterans and freshmen/sophomores to be very successful," Ciccarello claimed. "I feel they have been working hard and we will be successful if we play as a team and not individuals."
The women will be put to the test early on. They will travel south to Orlando for their first games starting on March 11. The 10-game schedule there includes two teams in the top 25 in the nation and a few others who threaten to crack the top 25. Ciccarello said, "We will need different players to step up each game for the key hit or play on defense."
There will be many young players on the team vying to be that individual who "steps up." Three starters were lost from last season, and there will likely be several underclassmen jockeying for these spots. One question mark in particular remains at third base, where four girls will be competing for the starting position. These include sophomore Rachel Hoover and freshmen Caiti Caputo, Karen Wagner and Sam Chin. Promising first-year Jackie Davey, who could possibly earn a starting spot at left field, spearheads a strong group of new faces that also include outfielders Andrea Edmunds and Katie Holm, corner infielder Jenna Santiago, and pitcher Kristen Carroza.
After the trip to Florida, the Knights head back only to go out on the road again, playing away games at New Paltz, Oneonta and Fredonia. They finally come back to Geneseo for the home opener on Friday, April 6, against fellow SUNYAC challenger Potsdam. They will remain there the following day for an afternoon game against Plattsburgh before heading back out again for the subsequent weekend.