The Plattsburgh state softball team will be taking its talents down south to kick off the 2017 season, looking to take advantage of the warm, sunny Florida weather. The Cardinals went 26-17 (13-5 in conference) last year, which was a 16-win turn-around from its 2016 season when the Cards finished 10-22 (5-13 in conference). After a season full of excitement and improvements last year, PSUC feels confident about its season ahead of them.
“I think we can do even better this year,” junior pitcher Taylor Smith said. “We have a lot of new talented girls, and of course the returners, who are always advancing their skill level.”
Smith, who is one of the eight upperclassmen on the roster, was unable to play for most of the season last year due to injury, but is heading into the season feeling healthy and ready to contribute.
“To come back and to be able to play is awesome,” Smith said. “Just to be on a team with all these girls is great.”
PSUC welcomes five new players to its roster this year (three freshmen and two transfers), which the team sounds excited about.
“We’ve gotten more players, so we have more depth,” junior outfielder Dominique Zummo said. “Watching us play, you’re going to see a lot more players rotating in-and-out since we have so many talented players, so there is going to be a lot of different girls in different positions on the field.”
The Cards will play its first 16 games of the season in Kissimmee, Minneola and Leesburg, Florida, and will be looking to start its season off the way they did last year, or even better, when they went 8-6 in Florida to start last season.
“Luckily we’ve been able to have great weather here, so we have been able to practice outside which will help us a lot,” Zummo said. “I think these games are really important.”
With a strong veteran presence this season, after only losing one senior from last year, PSUC is setting the bar high with this group of core girls.
“Unfortunately we lost Morgan (Anderson), but we only lost one player, so that was good for us because the core is still there,” Zummo said. “Right now, SUNYACs is the goal, and that is totally achievable for us because we have so many great athletes and all of our heads are mentally there.”
There is a strong emphasis on team building and leading by example each year under head coach Stephanie Conroy, especially prior to the beginning of the season. The lone senior on this year’s roster, first baseman Hope VanBrocklin, has been able to not only lead by example for the incoming players, but through team activities is able to relate, bond and strategize with them as well.
“I want to be a good leader on and off the field, wherever I am,” VanBrocklin said. “We include them (newcomers) in our little family, and they fit right in.”
Leading up to the season, the team held a bunch of team bonding activities to prepare themselves for the long season ahead of them.
“Last weekend we did an escape room in Vermont, we went snow-tubing watched team videos,” VanBrocklin said. “Anything we can do to relax and be together is great.”
PSUC kicks off the season in Kissimmee, Florida, Saturday March 10, against Kean University at 11:15 a.m., then will play Gustavus Adolphus College at 1:30 p.m.
“I think this year will be big for us,” VanBrocklin said. “We’re really excited to get out of the gym and play ball.”
Email Ezra Kachaturian at firstname.lastname@example.org