Coming into the 2010 season, the softball team had a few goals in mind, but before the Bombers could look down the road, their first goal was to clinch the Empire 8 regular season title.
With a 9–1 conference record, the Blue and Gold sit in first place just ahead of Alfred University — the only team in the Empire 8 the Bombers have faltered to.
“Obviously that could come back to haunt us if they continue to win the rest of their games because it could potentially mean that they could host,” senior Caitlin Ryan said. “As long as we win the rest of our games, we should be OK.”
The Blue and Gold have played four more conference games than the Saxons, but with a 5–1 record in the Empire 8, the teams remain essentially tied.
Despite the loss to Alfred, the South Hill squad is confident it can rebound, win out and solidify its No. 1 seed heading into the final four games of the Empire 8 season. This weekend, the Bombers take on Utica College on Saturday at home before hitting the road to take on Elmira College on Sunday in Elmira, N.Y.
“We have to [win],” Head Coach Deb Pallozzi said. “Right now Alfred and us are tied. We both have one loss, so if we lose anything and they win out, we don’t host. Every win right now is critical.”
While the team has shown that it loves to play at home with a 7–3 record at Kostrinsky Field, the Bombers have fared almost as well on the road at 6–2.
“We’re confident either way, so it doesn’t really affect us,” Ryan said. “Obviously we like playing at home, but we can play on the road just as well. I don’t think it really makes that big of a difference to us.”
In the Bombers’ six-game wining streak, each win came in a doubleheader sweep over an Empire 8 opponent, including two victories over St. John Fisher College, who the Bombers fell to in the Empire 8 tournament final last season.
“We were so pumped up for that Fisher game as we always are,” senior Katherine Wilson said. “We hate Fisher, so we always have to beat Fisher. That was huge, and that was big momentum going into Sunday, too.”
Fisher was picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, but the Cardinals currently sit in third with a 6–4 Empire 8 record.
With hosting the Empire 8 tournament being the next goal in mind for the Blue and Gold, Pallozzi said the competition is tough heading down the stretch.
“They’re all good,” she said. “[Nazareth College] has great pitching. Fisher has great pitching. Anything can happen in the Empire 8, as we’ve seen the last two years in a row we’ve gotten upset in the finals.”
With those upsets on their mind, the Bombers want to put themselves in the best position to win, which, according to Wilson, is playing at Kostrinsky Field.
“There’s nothing like playing on your home field, especially a high-adrenaline tournament like that where everyone wants to win because a lot of people in the Empire 8 are so competitive,” she said. “Everyone wants that spot for regionals, so having that little bit of a home-field advantage definitely helps.”