Matt Gad – Sports Writer
This year’s Owls softball team, which went 11-31, featured four graduating seniors in catcher Heather Jackson, outfielder Jaime Conklin, infielder BryAnna McIntosh and first baseman and pitcher Victoria Ceballos.
This past Sunday they had their final two collegiate games. Game one of a doubleheader with American International College featured a 5-1 win off a strong outing from freshman Jazmyn Martinez, who threw a complete seven inning game allowing five hits, a walk, an earned run and seven strikeouts, and game two was a 4-3 extra inning loss.
“There’s a lot of emotions … sadness, happiness, excitedness,” McIntosh said. “There was just a mixture of emotions throughout the whole game.”
McIntosh batted .286 this season with 36 hits and 19 RBI. April 9 she was named to the NE10 Conference Weekly Honor Roll after a string of games gave her a .444 batting average with a .611 slugging percentage.
Jackson came up 2-3 and scored two runs in the first game and Ceballos recorded two RBI. In the second game, Conklin had an RBI of her own.
“This was one of our smallest [graduating] classes, so far,” head coach Jill Rispoli said, who took over the program in 2014. “Last year we graduated 12 kids. This year we’re down to four so it’s significantly less but it’s just as emotional as it always is.”
Despite the team finishing 20 games under .500 and missing out on giving Rispoli her first playoff season, she said it’s not about the record right now.
“You’ve got to go through these ups and downs emotionally and always think about next year,” she said. “You want to build and build and build but it’s always hard to see these guys go.”
She felt confident in the performance of her seniors this spring, two of whom were recruited by Barbaro.
“I think they did a phenomenal job. They stepped up into big defensive roles and big offensive roles. Bri did a helluva job fielding everything out at shortstop,” Rispoli said. “Jaime Conklin, too. Heather Jackson was calling phenomenal games and Tori Ceballos was throwing lights out until she got hurt.”
McIntosh said she can’t believe that her playing career is actually over and that every year she would just tell herself that she had another one coming.
“I’m always like ‘oh, I have an extra year, I have another year’ but now it’s actually over. I don’t have another year,” McIntosh said.
She’s had Rispoli the entire time she has been an Owl and said “everyone kept saying how lucky I was to have her.”
“It’s been nice to see those guys perform so well in this big year,” Rispoli said.
In 2019, the program will see seven freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and four seniors return. The freshmen class was led this year by starting pitcher Jazmyn Martinez, who came out of Middletown, N.Y. Sophomore infielder Sara Buscetto, who mainly caught, had 29 runs, 39 hits and 20 RBI and held a .285 batting average.
Next year’s senior class will be just two deep in pitcher and outfielder Delany Turner and pitcher Madison Feshler.
Photo Credit: southernctowls.com