VALATIE — The softball team from Ichabod Crane has been to the NYS Final Four in four of the past five seasons. They’ve won two state championships out of the last five.
Though the season is delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it only gives the Riders more time to strategize and make decisions about position battles.
Mackenzie Wendelken will be moving to catcher this season, leaving an opening at first base. It looks like this will be the most sought after position, as upperclassmen Cameron Phippen, Rachel Walsh, and Clare Knapp who is looking to make an impact as she moves up to the varsity roster.
Coach Tracy Nytransky is confident that her team will continue to push each other to play even better once the season is underway.
“It’s a great thing for us to have put together a program where the girls want to put in the work, and know what it takes to be successful,” Nytransky said.
She also did not seem to have much concern with these number of weeks the season will be pushed back, and was confident in her team’s work ethic to stay ready.
“This year I think we should have a lot of depth and we should hit the ball pretty well. Most of these girls that are playing, are practicing all year. So basically, preparation never ends for them, and they are immediately ready to go once the season starts.”
The Riders look to bounce back, if this season actually begins, after a tough loss in the semifinals of the Final Four last year, with, now senior, Bella Milazzo on the mound.
Another key returning player will be Marissa Wheeler, who will look to stay dominant on the mound alongside Milazzo this year.
“We have a lot of high hopes for this season,” Nytransky stated, “with nine returning players and I fully expect to get back to the state tournament. At this point, obviously all of that is up in the air depending on what the state decides with spring sports.”
Originally, the spring season would have only been about a week away from now, with team rosters taking on a shape at this point in practices. But it gets to be tough when teams cannot even gather together outside to refine their skills and build team chemistry, when it becomes a public health risk.
Nytransky remains dedicated to checking on her girls though, and maintains the relationships she has built with these players the last few seasons, any way that she can.
“It was tough for us to start the season, and then be shut down after the first week. I have been staying in touch with my players in a few ways. I’ve started a varsity softball Google Classroom to send motivational quotes, different workouts, and drills that they can do at home to keep themselves sharp.
“And really, I’ve just been texting them to see how they are doing, and making sure they will be polished and ready once we do get the call to hopefully come back.”
As of right now, the schedule was pushed back for Section II spring sports until at least April 19. And we will hear of any changes in the coming days and weeks, as the committees continue to meet and have conference calls to decide the immediate future of these student-athletes.