With familiar personnel, but new challenges, the Plattsburgh State softball team will look to follow its successful 2017 season with a title run in 2018.
Last season, the Cardinals finished with a 25-19 overall record, 11-7 conference record and placed third overall behind Oswego and Cortland in the SUNYAC standings.
PSUC entered the SUNYAC tournament with only one starting pitcher after losing Katie Pitkin, a 2.50 ERA pitcher, to injury.
The Cards won two games in the tournament against Buffalo State and Oswego before losing and ending its season to Oneonta and the eventual 2017 champion, Cortland.
Five PSUC players were named to All-Conference teams last season. Junior catcher and 2016’s Rookie of the year, Jennifer Groat and first baseman Haleigh Agans were awarded first team honors, while infielders Dominique Zummo, Jackie Decker and outfielder Kaitlyn Preiss were assigned to the second team.
“We had a great season last year,” said Stephanie Conroy, head coach. “We just wished we could’ve gone a little further in the postseason. I think we had the potential to do it too.”
Entering the 2018 season, PSUC is made up of many familiar faces. Of the 16-player roster this season, 13 are returning players. However, one player is noticeably absent: 2017’s Co-Rookie of the Year, Haleigh Agans.
In her rookie year, Agans posted a .410 batting average, a .672 slugging percentage, 50 hits, 42 RBIs and 7 home runs, but she won’t have a chance to follow up her impressive rookie campaign in 2018 after sustaining a knee injury last fall that is expected to sideline Agans for the entire season.
Agans will serve as team manager for the 2018 season.
“It sucks and was horrible that we lost her,” Groat said. “We can’t dread on it and we can’t focus on what could’ve been if we had her. We need more people stepping up.”
Conroy is confident her team will be able to find production elsewhere in Agans’ absence.
“It hurts us in our lineup not having her, but it doesn’t mean we have any less depth,” Conroy said. “We definitely have all the strength that we need to win the games we want to win.”
The Cards were voted second among all other 10 SUNYAC teams in a preseason coaches poll released on Jan. 27.
“We have the potential to do really great things. Obviously we see that in ourselves,” Conroy said. “But for other coaches to see it as well means it’s a realistic expectation for us and we should be pushing past that as much as we can, so it’s not just being two, it’s about being number one.”
PSUC will open its season in Kissimmee, Florida where the team will compete in the Sunkissed Classic along with 39 other teams.
In the showcase, the Cards will face 14 opponents within seven days, four of which are ranked within the top 25 in the NCAA Division III National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. PSUC will meet No. 14 Ramapo College, No. 23 Kean University, No. 19 Ithaca College and No. 15 Washington University (Missouri). PSUC’s first matchup in the Sunkissed Classic will come against Alfred University on March 10.
Conroy is looking for her team to play competitively from the start and not take the Classic lightly.
She also expects the team to be taxed throughout the showcase, especially the three-player pitching staff.
Despite the game-heavy schedule, Conroy calls the showcase the “best part of our year.”
“We’re in sunny Florida, we get to play every single day, and we don’t have school to worry about at the same time,” Conroy said.
Groat is looking forward for the season’s start after practicing since returning from semester break.
“We’ve been practicing for so long,” Groat said. “It gets same old same old after a while, so finally being able to play is going to be really fun.”
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