Snow in mid-April makes the scheduling of outdoor athletics quite a chore. Just ask the Geneseo softball team, who in the past week had a series against SUNY Oswego postponed, rescheduled, postponed and rescheduled once more.
Since returning from their spring break road trip to Clermont, Fla., the Knights have had so much difficulty competing with Mother Nature that the actual opponents have been timid by comparison.
Decreased outdoor practice time and schedule unpredictability may be translating to inconsistency on the field, which has been a problem all season long. In the six games the Knights did play this past week, they once again broke even, sweeping Nazareth College, getting swept by SUNY Cortland and splitting with Buffalo State.
"We're a hit or a play away from being as good as every team in our conference," said head coach Tony Ciccarello. "I feel we're really close."
A day after handing Nazareth two fairly lopsided losses – 9-0 and 6-3 on Thursday – Geneseo got a chance to prove itself against SUNY Cortland. A perfect 10-0 in conference play, the Red Dragons are considered to be the top team in the SUNYAC, and they certainly played like champions against the Knights on Friday.
In the opener, Geneseo ran into stellar pitching from Cortland junior Lyndsay Rowell, who scattered three hits and struck out five to earn the win.
"They strung their hits together and we didn't," Ciccarello said. "In the first game their kid did a nice job of keeping our hitters off balance, using her changeup a lot; instead of looking for it we kept getting fooled by it."
One of the Knights' three hits was a home run from sophomore Lexi Williams in the bottom of the seventh that put Geneseo within two runs. Williams' blast came just a little too late, though, as her team was soon defeated 1-3.
"It was a great home run but I wish people were on base," Ciccarello said. "Sometimes leading the inning off with a homer isn't always the best thing."
In the second game, the Knights took a 1-1 tie into the fourth inning before allowing three unearned runs and eventually letting the game get away, 1-7.
"We're right there. I told the kids after the game … we're a hit away, we're a catch away but they just don't believe in themselves," Ciccarello said. "It starts with confidence."
"[The difference] is Cortland is winning one-run games and we're losing one-run games," he said.
Sophomore Jane LePage turned up a bright spot for the Knights, going 3-3 with a run scored in the second game. LePage, who is now second on the team in batting with a .397 average, has been one of a few underclassmen making a difference for Geneseo this season.
"There's a lot of youth out there that are going from high school to ‘here you go' [into Division III softball] and we don't just expect them to go along for the ride but to contribute," Ciccarello said. "Sometimes I replace a freshman with a freshman so we're getting that experience and it's going to be huge [in the future]."
On Tuesday, the Knights played up-and-down once again, defeating Buff State 7-0 in the first game before falling 1-9 in the second game. LePage continued her hot streak, going 4-7 with three doubles and two RBIs on the two games.
The Knights are now 11-13 on the season and 2-6 in conference play, but they hope to make up ground in the coming weeks with wins over SUNY Oswego, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oneonta.
Weather permitting, the Knights will host SUNY Potsdam on Friday and SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday. The Saturday match coincides with Senior Day, which will honor seniors Megan Pogemiller and Janine Montera.