It was a great day for the Columbia-Greene Community College Lady Twins softball program and coach Pete Dedrick on Tuesday afternoon, with the program signing eight elite local softball players for the 2018 season.
“We’ve had a couple good recruiting classes before this to really build the base up and I think this is obviously a tremendous recruiting class, not only talented on the field but girls and players with great work ethic, coming from winning programs. So they know how to do things the right way,” Dedrick said.
The eight commits are Chatham’s Baylee Cox and Jane Pilkington, Cairo-Durham’s Sierra Panicola and Sydney Spohler, Taconic Hills’ Rachel Nielsen, Greenville’s Justine Albin, Hudson’s Kaylee Hoffman and Ichabod Crane’s Cassidy Smith-Milazoo.
Dedrick is continuing to build a winning program with last year’s commits coming in to playing vital roles. Columbia-Greene tallied two six-game winning streaks during the 2017 campaign, leading the way into the Region III playoffs where they ultimately fell to No. 1 Herkimer County Community College.
Lauren Bowes, Tori Popp and Michaela Lamont were among several commits from a season ago that had tremendous success as freshmen. Dedrick hopes this incoming class of Lady Twins can carry-on that success and advance further in the Regional playoffs in 2018.
“The expectations are always high here,” Dedrick said. “They’re going to be brought in, and we are not here for 10 years, it’s only a two-year program, so we have to jump right in. We have essentially a 50-game schedule next spring with Myrtle Beach involved, so they’re going to get thrown in and we have a good fall ball schedule. Expectations are high.”
The Lady Twins will play between 12 and 20 games during fall ball and 48-50 games in the spring, with trip to Myrtle Beach for another 8-10 games.
Speaking to the athletes, their families and faculty, Dedrick emphasized the overall growth of the softball program at C-GCC since the 2011 recruiting class. Six years ago, Dedrick saw himself chasing down players and families across the field and sending out several hundred emails to get ahold of players to draw their interest in becoming Lady Twins, however, now players come to him.
“This program has come a very, very long way,” Dedrick said. “We had our first signing day in 2011-2012 and we’ve gradually gotten a lot more talent here throughout the last couple years. From one-to-two players signing to three-to-four players signing, last year we had nine or 10 signing and this year we have eight.”
Peering at the incoming freshmen, Cox comes in with a decorated resume as a Chatham Panther. The shortstop was a four-time first team Patroon Conference All-Star and batted .391 with 27 hits and 13 RBI this season. Her teammate, Pilkington, was a solid first baseman and designated hitter for the Lady Panthers, batting .255 with 12 hits and seven RBI this year.
From a pair of Lady Panthers to a pair of Lady Mustangs. Panicola was unable to take the field this season due to a knee injury during the basketball season, however, she’s had a solid career at Cairo-Durham.
Panicola was a 2014 and 2016 second team Patroon Conference All-Star and a 2015 first team All-Star. In her junior season, Panicola batted .357 with 25 hits, four doubles, one triple, one home run and 11 RBI. Her teammate, Spohler, was a solid third baseman and power-hitter for the Lady Mustangs. As a junior, she hit .359 with 23 hits, two doubles, one triple, one home run and 17 RBI. This year, Spohler batted .386 with 17 hits, four doubles, two home runs and 16 RBI.
Albin comes in fresh off repeating as a Section II, Class C champion. The power-hitting catcher was a 2015 second team Patroon All-Star and 2017 first team All-Star. As a junior, Albin batted .278 with 15 hits, two doubles, one triple, one home run and 15 RBI. This season, she batted .400 with 22 hits and 18 RBI.
Smith-Milazoo also brings championship experience to the Lady Twins’ roster. She started at second base for the 2015 Ichabod Crane Riders Section II, Class B and New York State Class B championship team. After battling illness as a junior and being unable to take the field, Smith-Milazoo came back stronger than ever this season posting a .347 batting average with 17 hits, three home runs and 20 RBI.
Hoffman, a former Lady Bluehawk shortstop, brings solid offensive and defensive skills to Columbia-Greene. She was recognized as a 2015 second team Patroon All-Star and 2017 first team All-Star. This season, Hoffman batted .448 with 26 hits, seven doubles, two triples, one home run and 16 RBI.
Lastly, there’s former Lady Titans ace Rachel Nielsen who will come to Columbia-Greene and form a solid pitching duo with Alexandria Jerro-Greco and also fill the shoes of the departing two-year starter D’Arcy Bittner. Nielsen comes with a decorated career being named a 2016 second team Patroon All-Star and a first team All-Star in 2015 and 2017.
“The recruiting class that I’m bringing in today, I have no problem bragging about them,” Dedrick said. “Five years ago, I probably didn’t think it was possible to get this depth of talent and the numbers that we have come in.”
With Bowes, Lamont, Popp, Greco, Catherine Gomm, Emma Muirhead and Anna Davies returning and playing along side this new group of talented local softball players, the sky is the limit for the Columbia-Greene Lady Twins in 2018.
“The goals are a deep postseason run for sure. We don’t shy away from expectations around here and we are not going to try and coddle them,” Dedrick said. “We are going to put them right to work — work ethic in the classroom, on the field, and we are going to attack it. We are not afraid of anything, we are going to hit it hard and see how it goes.”