UC softball struggles down south

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Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor 

The Utica College softball team will look to bounce back after a tough start to the season in Florida last week.

The Pioneers played 12 games in a span of six days, finishing with a 3-9 overall record. Starting on Sunday, March 13, UC played two games each day with the exception of Wednesday. The team struggled offensively, and had trouble generating runs. It took the Pioneers three games to score a run as they earned their first win against the University of Dubuque 3-0.

“We need to wake up our bats,” senior Cassie Smith said. “I think we left them in New York while we were in Florida.”

After UC’s win over Dubuque, they went on a three-game winning streak, defeating Farmingdale State College and Dickinson College. Following the win over Dickinson College, the Pioneers lost their last seven games to close out the Florida trip.

Although the record may not be what UC wants, there were some highlights from the week. Graduate student Stephanie Siriano led the team with a .265 batting average, including nine hits and four RBIs. Smith, senior Alysa Russel and freshman Nicole Rice each had eight hits in 12 games.

“Our overall record doesn’t show what we would like, but we lost really close games,” Smith said. “As a team we played great defense against great teams and we really came together as one on the last day.”

Senior pitcher Abby Monroe led the rotation with a team-high 31 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched. Even though she found success on the mound during the week, Monroe still feels there is room for improvement.

“I think I did well in Florida,” Monroe said of her performance. “I can improve on being more consistent with pitches in the strike zone and working more with the umpires throughout the game.”

Sophomore Brittany Meka and Sabrina Stransky posted good numbers as well. Meka had an earned-run-average of 0.40 in 17.2 innings pitched and Stransky had an earned-run-average of 0.81 in 8.2 innings pitched. Freshman Shannon Cool had six strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched to complete the rotation for the Pioneers.

“Everyone had their standout moment and play,” Smith said. “I think each of our five freshmen bring something different to the field and will have an impact on the team.”

The Pioneers will take the experience they had in Florida and only learn from it. They were able to face top-notch competition and figured out what they needed to improve on for the remainder of the season.

“I’m looking forward to getting into our conference games,” Monroe said. “We had a tough start and I think we can really turn it around and work hard especially with some of our first games being at home.”

UC will travel to Saratoga Springs, New York for a two game series against Skidmore College on Saturday. A slow start to the season will only help the team grow and improve down the stretch of the season when they get into conference games, which start on April 2. The Pioneers believe they have the right attitude and experience to get back to the Empire 8 playoffs this season.

“Team before self, play for the name on the front and not the number on the back,” Smith said.

Featured Image; Senior Abby Monroe struck out 31 over 30.1 innings during the team’s Spring Break trip to Florida. Photo by Jeff Pexton.