Confident softball team primed for '09

The Geneseo women's softball team is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2008 season in which they failed to make the SUNYAC tournament for the first time since 1998.

The Lady Knights finished last season with a 13-19 overall record and were 10-12 in SUNYAC play; this year, however, they aim to come out swinging - literally.

"Coming off of a rough season last year, our expectations are high and we hope to do a lot better," said junior Karen Wagner.

Last year the squad's biggest weakness was their performance in close games. The Lady Knights lost nine games by only one run, which according to head coach Tony Ciccarello, was a major reason for the disappointing finish.

"Last season was really tough, we did not reach our expectations," said Ciccarello. "We have the talent - it's just putting it all together, which means winning the one-run games and not letting things snowball."

Clutch hitting, solid defense and accurate pitching were all things Ciccarello cited as key for the team's ultimate success. Ciccarello also emphasized team play, which he stressed above all else.

"Nobody's here for their own good, you're here for the team," he said. "The egos are checked at the door. We are talented but that's not the way we are going to win. We need all 17 of them to step up when it's their turn to do so."

Looking toward the 2009 season, those around the clubhouse are excited about the possibilities.

"If we play the game the way we are capable of playing it I think things are going to come together and we will surprise a lot of people," said senior outfielder Nickie Steger.

"We're excited for this year because we have a lot of first year players who bring a lot to the table," Wagner added.

The Lady Knights welcome six freshmen to the fold, building around an already talented core of returning players.

"With this young lineup we're going to have different experiences than from what we've had in the past, but the expectations are high," said Wagner.

Despite all the talent, the Lady Knights' biggest strength may lie in the close bonds they have formed with each other.

"This is a really tight group," said Ciccarello. "That will go a really long way because they'll pick each other up." The team's closeness is echoed from every corner of the locker room, even from the incoming freshmen who will make up a good part of the 2009 ballclub.

"We're so excited because we're a really close team," said freshman Jackie Williams. "We have a lot to look forward to."

The team now turns their attention to Salisbury, Md. where they will begin their journey to the top of the SUNYAC with a series of non-conference games. The Lady Knights play their first home game April 3 at 3 p.m. against Potsdam.