The 2019 season was one to remember. Nyack College Softball, under head coach Jeff Aumend, has been fighting back to respectability, in recent years. Last year, for the first time in many years, the Lady Warriors regained respect by earning a post-season conference tournament entry, as the 7th seed. As high as 5th in the conference for much of the year, they weren't satisfied with just making the tournament. Nyack appeared on a mission, winning some thrilling games to finish 4th of 14 teams in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). And, in the final elimination game, lost a heartbreaking 10-inning 1-0 loss to Jefferson. Both teams Nyack eliminated, had swept the Warriors during the regular season.
Softball Season Outlook: Warriors Eager to Repeat Success
Posted: Mar 07, 2020
"We had great senior leadership and new, highly competitve players who wanted to be part of something bigger," noted 5th-year head coach Aumend. "Our wins came against teams that swept us during the regular season. We were the talk of the tourney and deservedly so. But, now things get tougher, if we want to take it to another level."
Despite graduating six seniors, the Warriors have some key pieces coming back and are excited about the season. Senior pitcher/third basemen Alyssa Giampolo was a second team all-conference player as was sophomore catcher Janelle Adams. Junior centerfielder Erin O'Brien, who has over 100 hits in her first two seasons, was named to the CACC all-tournament team. " For years, in baseball and softball, strength up the middle has been coveted," said Aumend. "Pitcher, catcher, center field. If you want returning players to build a program around, that's where most coaches would start."
Along with Giampolo and O'Brien, both captains, is a 3rd captain in senior outfielder Krissy Johnson. Johnson and O'Brien were a lethal weapon at the top of the batting order with their speed and diversity at the plate. A strong recruiting class with power-hitting catcher/utility freshman Kalia Quick and two junior college pitchers in junior Makensie Miller and sophomore Mandi Bass, has Aumend liking their chances to return to the conference tournament. "We had a good recruiting year, not just in talent but in quality of people," shared Aumend. " This team respects each other and its coaches and aspires to be even better than a year ago."
Rounding out the recruiting class are two freshmen speedy outfielders, Kelly Rattigan and Brittany Tomala, as well as freshman middle infielder Jayna Celano. Celano is the sister of junior infielder Tia Celano. And, adding to versatility on defense is junior infielder Arielys Rodriguez and junior transfer first baseman Izzy Murillo. "Having leaders like Tia and 'A-Rod' (Arielys) back, speaks to our versatility as both have played multiple positions during their college careers and were a part of last year's success. Rattigan and Tomala are polished defensive outfielders, despite being just freshman. Jayna is a tough-minded infielder and Murillo is one of the better defensive first baseman I've coached. Miller and Bass both have a good pitch selection and a veteran presence, as transfers. A lot to be excited about for these Warriors." Aumend also credits two of his former players turned assistant coaches, Aferdita (Dee) Sinanaj and Alissa Brugnoli. Sinanaj is in her second year of coaching while Brugnoli, a senior captain on last year's team, is in her first year. "These two players put Nyack College on the map, again. They were leaders on the field and have developed into two great coaches, quickly. They understand winning." Both won prestigious all-athletic department awards at Nyack as Sinanaj was named Female Student-Athlete of the Year (Gainer Award) in 2018 and Brugnoli earned the Bowman (character achievement) Award in 2019.
Nyack opens its season in Winter Haven, Florida at the Spring Games on March 8. CACC play will begin when they return, as they host Felician on March 17.