“I’ve been waiting for her to do this for two years now,” said Stephanie Conroy, Plattsburgh State’s softball head coach, said after senior outfielder Felicia Torres looped in a game-ending, two RBI double to center field, beating the St. Lawrence Saints 5-4 in what was one of three wins the Cardinals earned over the week. “ I was excited to see that because I’m hoping the confidence she gained will propel her forward.”
The Cardinals began game one of a doubleheader against St. Lawrence Wednesday by scoring a run in the bottom of the first but quickly gave up the lead in the third with two runs scored by the Saints. By the top of the sixth inning, PSUC trailed St. Lawrence 4-1. With two scoring opportunities remaining, the Cards’ motor kicked in and scored four unanswered runs, with Torres’ walk off double sealing the game for PSUC.
The Cards are no stranger to comeback wins this season; out of the nine games PSUC played since returning from Florida, three out five of its wins were decided after facing a deficit entering the sixth inning.
Conroy attributes the team’s tenacity to the confidence they have in one another.
“They’re not complacent with losing,” she said. “The only time we should be losing is when the other team truly beats us. That’s what we know very well; we know we should be winning each game.”
The Cards carried their momentum into game two of the doubleheader, scoring early and often. While sophomore right-handed pitcher Rhea Pitkin pitched a full game without giving up a run, PSUC tacked on runs and even forced a mercy ruling in the sixth inning after freshman infielder Bella Spadinger launched a homerun out of Cardinal Park, winning the game 9-0 for the Cards.
Conroy had high hopes for Spadinger when she first recruited the Loudonville native and is happy to see the freshman’s progression as the season has carried on.
“She had a home run in Florida, and it’s been up and down since,” Conroy said. “But freshman year is all about adjusting to the speed of the game. It takes time to do that and I think today was a good step forward.”
PSUC’s sweep over St. Lawrence is a result Conroy believes her team can repeat over and over this season.
“Our job right now is to stay ahead and keep sweeping teams as much as we can so we can stay ahead,” she said. “I think we can do it (win out the rest of the season.) It’s just a matter of our pitching staff having a good day and stringing together offensive opportunities.”
By adding three more wins over the week, PSUC held onto a share of the lead in the SUNYAC standings, in a tie with Oswego State.
Senior RHP Katie Pitkin also won SUNYAC Player of the Week honors for her performance against Middlebury College, where she struck out five batters in four innings, while only giving up two hits.
With Pitkin winning Player of the Week, that makes it the third time this season a Cardinal won the award, with junior catcher Jennifer Groat winning two herself.
“It’s great that we’re being recognized,” Conroy said, “but it doesn’t make us any better. It definitely gives us a little boost of confidence moving forward, so hopefully we thrive off of that.”
While PSUC faces the Potsdam Bears tomorrow for a doubleheader starting at noon, the team will also be promoting prostate cancer awareness, an issue coach Conroy is very familiar with.
Conroy’s father passed away from prostate cancer a few months ago and is big reason why the team will be accepting donations tomorrow toward ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to prostate cancer research, education and advocacy.
“He was a lover of Cardinal athletics in general and Cardinal softball. It’s been a large passion for my family,” Conroy said of her father. “He was proud of me, the team and the program. He cheered for every one of my teammates and my players as if it were me on the field.”
UPDATE: Softball’s doubleheader against Potsdam and their prostate cancer awareness promotion have been rescheduled to Tuesday, April 17 at 3 p.m.
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