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November 20, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Softball coach plans to retire after 31st season

Pallozzi hopes to lead the team to a national championship

When head softball coach Deb Pallozzi began her career at Ithaca College, gas cost 86 cents per gallon, Michael Jackson had just released his breakthrough album “Off The Wall” and Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States. Now, 30 years later, Pallozzi will be stepping down from the helm of the team but is leaving quite a legacy behind her.

Pallozzi has had a tremendous influence on the softball program over the past three decades — she has posted a 858–403–1 record with the Bombers. Alongside her winning record, she has made 10 appearances in the Women’s College World Series and led the Blue and Gold to a national championship in 2002.

Pallozzi coached her way into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and was inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. After three decades of coaching, Pallozzi said she feels content with her achievements and has decided to conclude her illustrious career now because of the way the recruiting process is changing to become less region-centric. Club softball tournaments are a primary way for coaches to locate the strongest possible recruits from around the country in one spot. These tournaments are held mostly in California or the southeastern states, as the Northeast rarely provides optimal weather conditions for competing.

“I’m tired,” Pallozzi said. “The type of recruiting that the program thinks it’s going to need in the very near future is very national, and I don’t want to have to fly to recruit.”

The players Pallozzi has coached over the years have had success under her coaching techniques, but she said she has also made a point throughout her career to develop the young women she is coaching into better people off the field. Sophomore infielder Gabby Laccona said she has had a great relationship with Pallozzi and credits her for more than just coaching softball.

“Coach Pallozzi has taught me how to be a respectful person not only on the field but in life in general,” Laccona said. “She’s taught me to never settle for anything because you can always be better than you were yesterday. That’s something that really has stuck with me because instead of being complacent, I just want to get better. This is a good attitude to have even in the work field when I’m older.”

On the field, Pallozzi has influenced some of the program’s most successful players during her career, including 19 NFCA All-Americans. She also coached the college record holders in every statistical category except for season batting average.

Pallozzi credits the administration at the college for giving her the necessary support to be the best coach she possibly can be. Pallozzi said that the quality of the athletic department motivated her to remain at the head of the program for so long.

“All of the people on the grounds since I’ve been here have treated me really well, and the current grounds crew is no exception for sure,” Pallozzi said. “The support from the administrationthey want us to be able to compete at the highest level, so they try their hardest to allow us to compete at the highest level. And the fact that we get to compete for a national title every year, that’s fun too.”

Junior pitcher Shannon Grage said she has become very close with Pallozzi over the years and has relied on her as a mentor off the field.

“I will miss the ability to walk into the office and just talk about whatever is going on,” Grage said. “She has helped me persevere through some rough patches I have undergone throughout my years here, and I could never thank her enough for that.”

Pallozzi’s final season will begin on the softball team’s spring break trip March 10 in Orange, California, where the Bombers will open up against Chapman University. After the trip, the Bombers will face Utica College and Western Connecticut State University before hosting SUNY Oneonta in their home opener March 26. Pallozzi said she intends to make the most of her final year.

“I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve gotten better each year,” Pallozzi said. “We won a championship, and I’d love to win another one, but more importantly, I hope that our women that leave our program feel confident enough to pursue anything that they want to pursue because they’ve been a part of this program.”