It’s been two weeks since the Plattsburgh Softball team has played a game, but that hasn’t stopped them from improving.

The Cardinals (8-8) will square off against SUNY Oneonta (10-2) in a double header in Sydney, New York, April 2, beginning at 12 p.m. A shift in date and venue was due to unplayable weather conditions, which will also move their upcoming game against New Paltz.

However, the extra time off doesn’t seem to affect the team but actually help its development for the tough season ahead.

“We’ve been preparing and we’re ready to go,” junior outfielder Amanda Tantillo said. “We’re having fun, and that’s what makes the team relaxed.”

The Cards are facing a red-hot team in the Red Dragons, who are winners of three of their last four contests. The Dragons are currently batting .344 as a team, so the pitching staff will have their hands full with these hot bats.

Sophomore outfielder Jennifer Sarcone, however, is still using the Florida trip as her momentum as is the rest of the team.

“Ending Florida on a good note, we found our groove as a team,” Sarcone said. “We know when to get things going.”

One thing is for sure, the level of confidence from the team is what makes them a contender in the competitive SUNYAC conference.

A solid team ERA of 2.72 spells trouble for the Red Dragons’ bats, as well as a team fielding percentage of .958.

Pitching and defense currently seem to be the bread and butter for the Cards. Confidence, however, is their x-factor.

“We’re sweeping both days,” Sarcone said. “If you won’t believe it yourself as a player, than no one else will.”

With their matchup quickly approaching, the Cardinals roster will be put to the test against a Red Dragons team that is surging right now. The Red Dragons possess a 2.21 ERA and a overall fielding percentage of .945.

“The extra time off didn’t’t have an effect on us,” Tantillo said. “You always have to be ready to go; you’ll never know when your number will be called.”

With Taylor Smith, Katie Pitkin and Rhea Pitkin at the pitching helm, the Red Dragons have a tough test ahead of them. The Cardinals defense will also bring another problem to the Red Dragons.

More than 13 players carry a fielding percentage of over .900 and have fewer team errors than the Red Dragons. Getting off to a strong start will only build that confidence has the season continues.

“Playing is fun,” Tantillo said, “If you’re not having fun while you play, you truly cannot become better.”

Defeating a 10-2 team will further solidify their status as contenders in the SUNYAC conference. After their matchup with the Red Dragons, the Cards must shift their focus on the New Paltz Hawks (2-10).

It’s in the Cardinals’ hands whether they start 4-0 or 0-4. Their confidence in those games will determine if these Cards’ are truly contenders or pretenders.

The next time we see the Cardinals play will be in a doubleheader against the New Paltz Hawks (2-10) in Chester, New York beginning at 11 a.m.

Email John Peralta at sports@cardinalpointsonline.com

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