Matthew Robinson, Staff Writer
Softball Head Coach Patrick Mineo achieved a milestone last week, earning his 300th career win. The victory came on April 14, a milestone that not many coaches have reached. Right now, his team is just above .500 with a record of 11-9.
“Winning 300 games is a great accomplishment we are all proud of here at UC,” Athletic Director David Fontaine said. “I have known Coach Mineo for a good number of years so I am very happy for him. Men’s Hockey Coach Gary Heenan is the only other coach close to that milestone.”
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On April 14, the Pioneers split a doubleheader against Keuka College. The Pioneers took game one by a score of 3-2, before dropping the second 5-3 in non-conference action. In the second matchup, Joss was two for three and scored one run. In the fourth inning, Utica was able to find breathing room when Erica Sanford brought in Brooke Catlin on a sacrifice fly and Bailey McElwain scored an RBI single to score Madison Akots to secure the lead for the win. The game one win secured the 300th win for Mineo.
“It was a great honor to be able to get my 300th win with a great group of players and coaches,” Mineo said. “I don’t think any other softball coach, or any other coach at Utica, has won that many games. It feels great to reach this point in my career. I was only seven games away last season, but obviously, we all know last season ended shortly to unfortunate circumstances.”
During Mineo’s time at Utica, he has finished above .500 in seven of the last eight seasons. The two-time Empire 8 Coach of the Year has placed 85 student-athletes on All-Conference Teams and brings 30 years of softball coaching experience to the Pioneers softball program. Along with getting 300 wins, another one of his big accomplishments was sweeping both Ithaca and St. John Fisher in the Empire 8 tournament back in 2013.
“Going to the NCAA tournament in 2013 was a big deal not only for the team, but for the school and everyone that lives in the area,” Fontaine said. “It’s always a big accomplishment going that far into the season and playing against the best teams.”
As the regular season nears the end, junior Emily Joss hopes the team continues to grow.
“It’s been a strange two years with COVID, losing our entire season and having restrictions on practices and just normal team bonding that occurs off the field,” Joss said. “With less than half the season left our fate of making the playoffs is in our own hands. I think the team is starting to come together and I’m looking forward to seeing the work we’ve put in the past years as we push toward the finish line.”
The Pioneers’ next six games will be home against Sage College, Cazenovia College and Houghton College at Greenman Softball Field, followed by the team’s last regular-season doubleheader against Elmira College on May 5.
This year’s conference tournament will feature the conference’s top six teams from the regular season. The first round will be held on May 8 and 9.
“Never did I think I would be here, at Utica this long,” Mineo said. “There was never a time where I had the desire to go anywhere else. Considering I live local in the area there was no reason for me to go somewhere else.”