BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — The win-loss record didn’t finish the way the Niskayuna softball team wanted for its 2016 regular season.
The hope of the team’s seniors, though, is that they did enough during a two-win regular season to help form a brighter future for the Silver Warriors — and that’s a task head coach Jules Paul said his group of eight seniors completed with their guidance of the squad’s underclassmen.
“They brought them up in a very positive way this year,” Paul said after his team’s 7-2 Senior Day loss to Saratoga Springs back on May 9. “It’s been a grind and they stuck with it. They kept building each other up.
“Through the losses, they could have given up,” added Paul, whose team did not have the fully-healthy services of its senior pitcher Julia Favata for the first half of the season. “But they never did that.”
Instead, through a variety of tough losses, senior catcher Lauren Farina and her classmates stayed positive. Making sure this year’s freshman and sophomores didn’t let the losing affect their outlook, she said, was something the seniors took seriously.
“I’d think back to when I was their age and the way the older girls led us then, how they always stayed [positive] with us,” said Farina, whose squad’s roster included no juniors.
“You just wanted to help each other out. Even in this position, you want to keep your head up and cheer on your teammates,” senior Angela Grant said of the type of example her class tried to provide. “We were teaching them what they’ll teach other [younger] kids eventually, and that was important to us.”
Caroline Kelly, one of the team’s sophomores, is one of the key pieces for the Niskayuna program’s future, along with classmates Christina Callahan and Amelia Canestrari, and freshmen Molly Mason and Sydni Towe. The guidance those younger players received from their seniors about how to handle the day-to-day grind of playing a varsity sport, Kelly said, was crucial for their development.
“Some of them were here for three years, so they knew how to play and how to help us,” she said. “They were also always eager to have us get more reps.”
The spirit was always there, too, which showed during the team’s Senior Day game. Down early, Niskayuna battled to the finish, scoring a run and loading the bases in the seventh inning before its comeback attempt ended. Grant, one of Niskayuna’s third-year varsity player, said it was “crazy” to finally be playing on her own Senior Day, a sentiment Farina shared.
“Now that it was finally here, it was so emotional,” she said. “In the last inning, I kept thinking about how it was the last time I’d be catching here, getting an at-bat here.
“I wanted to make the most of it,” said Farina, who hit a solo home run on her Senior Day.
Going forward, it’ll be up to the Niskayuna underclassmen to make the most of the experience they got this year and the guidance they received. That’s a challenge the youthful Silver Warriors are ready to tackle.
“We’re going to have to really step up next year,” Kelly said. “I’m excited to see us do that because I think we’re ready.”