The Plattsburgh State softball team brought in nine new faces this season and there is only 14 players on the roster. With such a young team and short season, the team had to find chemistry quickly.

In addition to team chemistry, freshmen have the added challenge of finding a balance between academics and athletics. Freshman catcher and third baseman Jackie Decker boasts a batting average of .306 and nine RBIs through 22 games. Decker finds the hardest part of college softball is balancing school work and playing the game.

“Because I’m new coming in as a freshman, I have to create the chemistry among the team while getting along in my classes and playing well,” Decker said.

With eight other rookies, Decker is not alone in learning to find that balance between school and sport. Freshman utility player Evelyn Vicencio joined the team after practices already started, adding yet another challenge as she had to find chemistry with her teammates. Vicencio said the team has been really nice about it.

“Everybody’s been so accommodating and helping me through everything,” Vicencio said.

“Like getting used to practices and showing me the ropes because they’d already started.”

Vicencio scored a run in each of the Cards’ wins over Potsdam April 14. Boosted by the underclassmen, PSUC beat the Bears 3-1 and 12-4. The freshmen put up 11 of the 15 total runs scored.

Assistant coach Sarah Fern describes this season as a big growing year with the numerous freshmen, which is key to building the program.

“This group is very talented, very hardworking,” Fern said. “They are adding a lot of spice to this game.”

With the sweep of the doubleheader versus Potsdam, the Cards are now 3-9 in the SUNY Athletic Conference and 8-18 overall. PSUC closes out conference play with doubleheaders against Geneseo April 17, Brockport April 18, and SUNYAC leading Cortland April 25, which will be the only home games of the season. Fern said the team is performing, but it’s not enough.

“We’re competing hard,” Fern said. “It’s just being able to put pitching, defense, and offense all together into one collective unit and working together as a team.”

With a plethora of young and talented players, the future of the PSUC softball program is promising. Decker and Vicencio are just two of many making waves in the SUNYAC this year. The large group of freshmen moving forward excites Fern. She said, with the transition to being sophomores, they will have matured enough to know what the coaches are expecting and what it takes to win a conference game.

“It’s definitely a great group of girls moving forward into a sophomore transition,” Fern said. “It’s going to be phenomenal.”

Though the team may not be getting the desired results, the players appear to be having a blast. Even for those early morning practices, Vicencio said everybody is fun and exciting.

“It’s just such a fun team,” Vicencio said. “I’ve never had a bad day.”

For Decker, the most fun comes from creating the bond with her teammates.

“We have a family among our team,” Decker said. “That’s the best part for me, even the tears and the hard parts, because we get through them together.”

Email Jess Huber at jess.huber@cardinalpointsonline.com

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