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March 31, 2008

 

Veteran bunch of Purple Tigers

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

The Cortland High softball team, which is currently slated to open its 2008 season by hosting Mexico on Friday, returns the majority of the squad that went 3-11 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 3-12 overall last spring.
In fact, 11 of 17 players are back from a year ago. The one drawback is that among the graduation losses were the Purple Tigers’ only first- and second-team all-leaguers from last spring. First baseman Brittany Babcock (team-high .348 batting average) was named to the first team, while third baseman Chelsea Snyder made the second team.
Also gone is pitcher Natalie Mieras, who went 2-6 in ‘07 with a 4.33 ERA.
Heading up the veterans is junior third baseman Melanie DelRosario, who hit .237 last season with four RBIs and was an all-league honorable mention as a shortstop. Other seniors back are pitcher Jamilla Fort and right fielder Lauren Shirley. Returning juniors are catcher Taylor Foster, second baseman Kayleigh Mital, center fielder Kaleigh Smith, first baseman Megan Turco, shortstop Andrea Turcsik and outfielder Alena Turturro — while sophomore pitcher Maggie Reagan (1-6, 4.36 ERA) also returns.
This season’s tri-captains are DelRosario, Shirley and Turcsik.
The newcomers, all up from last year’s junior varsity team, are juniors Kate Owens (third baseman) and Nicole Van Deuson (outfield), and sophomore cousins Aubrey and Morgan VanGorder — in will be in the infield and outfield, respectively. Everyone on the team bats and throws right-handed.
“We need to score runs, which we couldn’t do last year,” coach Mick Lowie said. “Defensively we were as solid as anybody in the league by the end of last season. There’s no reason to think that we shouldn’t hit the ball better. The kids are a year older and better. We want to make contact and force the other team to make (defensive) plays on us. With the decent pitching we’ve got, we’re going to win games.
“We have a of girls back who did a lot of playing last season so it’s not all new; it’s review,” he added. “We were competitive in most of our games last season, and are more of a veteran team now. We feel we’re going to compete. We also feel that we have some options, with kids who can play a couple of positions so we can move kids around and get them in games.”
In addressing his team’s strengths and weaknesses, Lowie said: “Our infield should be strong again, and we’re happy with what we’ve seen out of our pitchers. Not being on the field (as of last week) is a problem, but all of the teams are in that boat. We have some unknowns, particularly first base and the outfield.”
And as for the league?
“ Fulton is going to be tough with an outstanding pitcher in Jessica Palmitesso,” Lowie said. “East Syracuse-Minoa won it last year and looks very strong, Homer is always good and has (pitcher) Ashley Brown and (good-hitting catcher) Stephanie Hartquist back, and Jamesville-DeWitt is good and solid. Mexico is solid and has a good pitcher (senior Rachel Verdoliva), Phoenix looks pretty competitive, Chittenango was rebuilding last season and Fowler comes in as an unknown.
“Overall, the league is very, very strong. Realistically we should be in the middle and, depending on how things go, maybe toward the top. A .500 season is realistic; to wind up in the middle of the pack would be a substantial improvement, and we could possibly do better than that.”
Lowie will once again be assisted by Tiffany Beam this season. Dave Beams will be again be the junior varsity coach, assisted by Ryan Patrie, while the modified team will be guided by head coach Dan Camillo and assistant Dan Bronson.