New Cayuga Community College Softball Coaches Chris Amoia and David Plish believe they're building the foundation to grow the Spartans' softball team for this season and beyond.
Veteran coaches with more than 30 years' experience in fastpitch softball, Amoia, Plish and Assistant Coach Nick Bashta are confident they can get the Spartans' program rolling after the college didn't field a softball team in 2018.
"We have some talented players. About half of our roster is experienced from playing pretty extensive travel softball. Some other players don't have quite the same level of experience," said Amoia. "We're excited for the season to start, and to see where we are in comparison to the other teams in our conference."
The Spartans' season starts soon, with the team traveling to Lackawanna College for a doubleheader on March 16, followed up with March doubleheaders at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton, and Fulton-Montgomery.
Cayuga closes the first month of the season with its first scheduled home games against SUNY Adirondack on March 31.
Amoia and Plish are confident that their current roster will be ready to compete against a busy schedule that features more than 30 games in less than two months.
"We've coached travel ball in the area for a long time, so we're familiar with the rosters on some of the teams we'll be playing. We feel like we can be competitive and win some games," said Plish. "There are some other teams that make the national tournaments every year, and those games will be harder. But we're doing everything we can to get ready for the season."
Cayuga's softball team features two returning players, Elizabeth Plish (catcher, infielder) and outfielder Keirstan Bozeat, and strong starting pitchers Deanna Shackelton, Kyra Cotrill, and Shelby Koch.
Deanna and her sister Kaylee Shackelton (shortstop) will provide key leadership for the upcoming season, said Amoia.
"They excelled as starters at West Genesee High School, and both have years of experience playing competitive travel softball," said Amoia of the Shackeltons. "I think that experience is going to be big for us this season."
As the Spartans return to the field in 2019, they'll also have a new stadium to call home. Once field construction is complete, the softball team will play its home contests at Falcon Park, the home of the Auburn Doubledays.
Construction of the new turf field started in the fall of 2018, and will continue once winter ends. Spartans home games will be played at the Herman Avenue softball fields in Auburn until Falcon Park is complete.
"Falcon Park will be huge for us," said Amoia. "That was something we didn't have before, our own home stadium, and now we do. I think that's going to be a huge help for recruiting, and it's a great opportunity for players, to have the chance to compete on a fantastic field."
The first half of Cayuga's doubleheader against Lackawanna will start at noon on March 16, with the second half scheduled for a 2 p.m. start.