UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College Softball team is preparing to host the Empire 8 tournament this weekend for the first time ever. That's because the Lady Pioneers won the regular season conference title, also for the first time.
"We put in a lot of hard workouts and we wanted this, since day one," says senior catcher and Oriskany grad Mallory Inglass. "It's so gratifying to have it all pay off and to be able to host, not just make playoffs, is just unbelievable. It's awesome."
UC has turned around an overlooked program over the last few years, leading the Empire 8 in seven offensive categories this year, including home runs and runs batted in.
"it's been such an exciting time, we have a really supportive fan community," says Frankfort native and New Hartford grad Dominique Carcone, an infielder. "All the local people have been buzzing and it's been fun to just be a part of that and be a part of a campus where we're all moving up. It's been a good time."
The Pioneers have only lost one game at home all season, out of conference, to RPI. That dominance at Greenman Field will be a big help as they prepare to host Alfred in their first game of the tourney, Friday at Noon.
"As athletes that's what we live for, we love just being out here and now we're attracting all the fans," says sophomore outfielder Christy Traglia, a Mohawk grad. "We love playing, it's something we always loved doing. I can't wait for playoffs, I know my teammates are so excited. I have all the confidence in the world, I know if we put our minds to it, we can do anything."
Ithaca and Elmira play in the first game of the day, Friday at 10 a.m. The losers of the first two games play an elimination game at two, while the winners of the first two play at four.
The tourney will continue Saturday and if necessary, Sunday.