The Geneseo softball team traveled to Clermont, Fla. over spring break, returning to snow-covered Geneseo with a 5-5 overall record and mixed reviews.
At their best, the Knights came from behind to hand No. 13 Ithaca College its first loss of the season. At their worst, the women surrendered three straight games including a nine run loss to Keene State College.
"We did have a rollercoaster type of trip," said head coach Tony Ciccarello. "We lost two games in the seventh [inning] and we should have won both of them but on the other side of the coin we beat Ithaca [College] who was No. 8 in the country at the time."
Against Ithaca, the Knights took off to an early 4-0 lead but let it slip away in the sixth as the Bombers took a 5-4 lead capped by a solo home run. Geneseo responded in the seventh, sealing a 6-5 victory on a two-run homer by senior Megan Pogemiller. Junior Jess Steubing set the table for Pogemiller's heroics with a clutch two-out base hit. Junior KK Schaus went 3-4, adding an RBI and a stolen base.
A different type of story unfolded against the University of Massachusetts at Boston, however. The Knights took a two-run lead into the seventh only to see it disappear on two hits, three runs and one costly error. Senior Janine Montera scattered six hits with three walks and four strikeouts throughout the game and freshman Patty Callahan went 2-3.
"We have to learn to play to our ability," Ciccarello said. "You know that old saying … you can't play to the level of your opponent; play your way. We can't let teams hang around. We're better than those teams."
Over the first ten games of the season, the Knights have been plagued by costly errors at extremely inopportune moments. "It isn't a snowball effect. It's that our errors are coming at the worst times," Ciccarello said. "They aren't coming with nobody on and two out. They're coming with runners on and one out."
To avoid errors like the one committed in the seventh inning against UMass Boston, Ciccarello emphasized that his team needs to play more and think less.
"It's an analytical school. Everybody here is a thinker and we have to stop them from thinking on the field," he said. "They're at this school for a reason. They're very intelligent, they're thinkers and they analyze, but sometimes that's not the best for sports."
The Knights return a solid core of players from their 2010 campaign, in which they went 25-17 overall. This season, the Knights add freshmen starters Callahan and Sam Trapasso – who notched a double and a home run in her first two Geneseo at-bats – and hope to pull off a balanced approach.
"We have to be a balanced team: offensively, defensively, pitching and catching. All the pieces have to work for us; we can't depend on any one piece," said pitching coach Dave Sylvester. "We're probably better off this year. Not to put anything down about last year, but as a whole we are much more balanced this year as opposed to last year."
The Knights begin a tough stretch of conference match-ups starting this weekend at Buffalo State College and SUNY Fredonia on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
"In our conference you cannot look past anybody," Ciccarello said. "Losing that one game to the one team you shouldn't have can cost you not only a seed but a bid. Every game is big."