The Plattsburgh State softball team, after a week’s rest, will begin its SUNYAC schedule today at 3 p.m. with a doubleheader at Cardinal Park against the College at Brockport, followed by another doubleheader versus SUNY Geneseo starting at noon Sunday.
The Cardinals are coming off a 6-8 performance in the Sunkissed Classic, a softball showcase in Kissimmee, Florida, where PSUC played over spring break and faced three nationally ranked opponents.
Despite earning themselves a sub .500 record, last season’s third-place PSUC head coach, Stephanie Conroy, believes the team isn’t underperforming.
“We played tougher competition than we were playing last year,” Conroy said. “So I think that we have prepared ourselves to hopefully know how to play when we play the tougher teams later on.”
By playing tougher opponents, Conroy believes the team’s weaknesses were exposed, allowing them to use Florida as a learning experience.
“When you play tough teams, it always show what you need to work on, what you need to be better with,” Conroy said. “It challenges you as a team mentally and emotionally.”
The big weakness Conroy highlighted was the team’s defense. Conroy admits opponents in Florida took advantage of PSUC’s inconsistent defense, an important trait Conroy believes is needed to pull off wins against challenging teams.
“We learned that when you play tough teams, you have to be 100 percent on defense,” Conroy said.
Junior shortstop Kaitlyn Preiss remembered Florida as a teaching moment.
“We had a lot of different people in different positions,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience.
One team quality that wasn’t tested over spring break was its chemistry.
With 12 out of 16 players being juniors and seniors, PSUC’s players have had years to familiarize with one another.
“We’ve gone through our ups and downs,” Conroy said. “They’re like a group of sisters. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they don’t, but either way, we’re definitely a family.”
Preiss calls the team’s chemistry its biggest strength.
“We’re the closest we’ve ever been,” she said.
Being on an older team with seven graduating seniors, Preiss is beginning to feel the pressure to produce results.
“This is our year to make an impact in the SUNYACS,” she said.
Returning from Florida on a three-game winning streak, Preiss is confident the team has reached its stride.
“The last two days [of the showcase,] we started to reach our fullest potential,” she said.
Conroy is looking for her team to take this weekend’s opponents seriously.
“Going into conference play, we have to expect that even though the teams might not, on paper, be as tough as the teams that we’ve played [in Florida,] these are the 10 teams we compete with in order to continue our season at the end of the year and compete for a championship.”
Conroy is also looking for her team to be productive on all levels.
It’s important that we take it one team at a time,” Conroy said. “We face Brockport first, we need to tackle them and make sure we’re perfect on defense, we’re strong as a pitching staff, we’re relaxed at the plate and we’re ready to harp on any mistakes they give up.”
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