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Softball looks to turn past experience into success

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Wed, Mar 13th 2019 02:00 pm
Junior shortstop Meghan Cullen places her glove on the infield dirt as she crouches in anticipation of a possible hit in her direction. Of the 34 games that Brockport competed in last year, Cullen registered one or more base hits in 29 of them.
Junior shortstop Meghan Cullen places her glove on the infield dirt as she crouches in anticipation of a possible hit in her direction. Of the 34 games that Brockport competed in last year, Cullen registered one or more base hits in 29 of them.

When looking at the roster, The College at Brockport softball team appears to be young and on the rise. A closer look would show that the roster is comprised of 10 juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen. With only one senior on the roster, it typically stands as a sign of youth, however, half of the team is entering their junior or senior season. While the team was especially young last season, many returning players had put up quality showings throughout the 2018 campaign.

Junior shortstop Meghan Cullen and junior third baseman Allison Missavage led last year’s team in batting average at .426 and .393. Junior infielder Jessica Koneski and junior outfielder Casey Danko hit the most home runs for the Golden Eagles in 2018. Cullen and Danko also led the team in stolen bases with 14 between the two of them.

While most of the offensive production is returning for Brockport, the same cannot be said for the pitching staff. Three of the six Golden Eagles that found themselves on the mound last season are no longer on the roster. Sophomore pitcher Julia Palopoli led all returning players in innings pitched with 66.2. She had a 4.09 earned run average (ERA) and six wins during her freshman season. Sophomore pitchers Leah Graham and Maggie Dorgan also return after throwing minimal innings with varying levels of success.

The experience the players have gotten so far is rare for a team with this many sophomores and juniors. Sophomore infielder Sarah Mahar thinks that the experience will help to propel the Golden Eagles toward the top of the SUNYAC this season.

“I think having a lot of sophomores and juniors is really beneficial because we are all really comfortable with each other and confident in how we play, which helps on and off the field,” Mahar said. “I think that year of experience made us better so this year we can be a force in the SUNYAC conference.”

The lone senior on the team, third baseman/catcher Morgan Flamholtz, will be tasked with leading the squad. She had a fine season herself, batting .383 in 28 games. Her leadership ability will be put to the test along with the help of some of the juniors. However, Flamholtz is not uncomfortable or worried about being the only senior on the roster.

“It is not odd being the only senior on the team,” Flamholtz said. “A big chunk of our team are juniors, so there is still an upperclassman presence.”

Flamholtz will have the full support of her teammates throughout the season. Mahar said that the team respects Flamholtz and trusts her as a leader.

“[Flamholtz] is such a great leader, and everyone really respects her both on and off the field, so I don’t think leadership will be a problem with one senior,” Mahar said. “Also, the juniors have stepped up and stepped into leadership roles as well, so leadership is not a problem.”

The new season will provide new expectations for the team. After a somewhat disappointing campaign in 2018 saw the team finish with a 15—19 record, expectations will be higher this season. The team started well last season but stumbled to a 5—13 record in SUNYAC play and failed to qualify for the postseason.

To make a statement that opposes last year’s conference record, Flamholtz thinks that the keys to success can be found off the field. 

“I believe the key for the team to be successful this year is team unity,” Flamholtz said. “We have been working towards becoming closer as a whole team and I believe it will benefit us a lot this year. Also, just making sure that we are staying healthy. In the past years, injuries have hurt us in the long run.”

The start of the new season is on Friday, March 15 in Fort Meyers, FL. Between Friday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 20, Brockport will be playing two games a day in Florida. The competing teams will consist of Curry College, Western Connecticut State, Crown College, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, North Central College, Knox College and University of Minnesota Morris. The Golden Eagles will face some of these teams multiple times throughout the week.