Cardinals still holding out hope for trip to playoffs

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Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 3:23 am

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State is tied for last in the SUNY Athletic Conference softball standings, but the Cardinals are still aiming for the playoffs.

They have six home games this weekend — they’ll play at Cardinal Park for the first time this season — so a surge into the top six spots isn’t impossible.

“I think it’s important for them to know what the outlook is because then it tells them we’re not checking out,” Plattsburgh coach Stephanie Conroy said. “We’re not done yet. This isn’t just like, ‘Oh, this is our last week.’ They have to know that if they work hard and they do what they need to do, we can live to play another day.

“And even though we want to focus on one day at a time, we still have to think about the big picture.”

Conroy said she didn’t have in mind a specific number of wins that they would need to get into next week’s SUNYAC Tournament. New Paltz currently sits in sixth place with a 6-7 conference record. Plattsburgh is 3-9.

The Cardinals (7-21) host Brockport today, followed by Geneseo on Saturday and Potsdam on Sunday.

Plattsburgh has won back-to-back games just once this season but will need to get on roll now to give itself a chance.

“If we win all the games we have left … we’d be 9-9,” senior infielder Brianna Clarke said. “So we would probably just get in there, hopefully. I mean, the SUNYAC’s very unpredictable, so you never know.”

The toughest of their three remaining opponents is up first. Brockport (19-7, 8-4 SUNYAC) is third in the conference and has won eight of its last 10 games. The Golden Eagles swept Fredonia 8-0 and 6-2 on Monday.

Junior infielder Andrea Schell has been one of the top hitters in the conference, and she currently boasts a .456 average, 31 hits and 26 RBI. She has slugged eight home runs.

Geneseo (15-13, 8-6) is fourth in the conference, while Potsdam (4-20, 3-9) is tied for ninth with Plattsburgh.

If the Cardinals are going to make an improbable run to the tournament, they’ll likely need to boost their offense. They rank ninth in the SUNYAC with a .252 team batting average and seventh in runs scored (103).

“I think that they’re just putting too much pressure on themselves,” Conroy said. “And they really need to relax and remember why they play this game and just be a family and be a team and understand that if they strike out once, it does not mean that they will strike out again — unless they let it become that fear.”

Brittany Marshall leads Plattsburgh with a .351 average, and Clarke (.333) is the only other player at or above .300. Clarke has team highs in hits (28), doubles (10) and RBI (22).

“In practice and everything, we hit great,” Clarke said. “I think it’s just in the game, it’s more mental and everyone’s trying to do too much. And I think that’s just where maybe it falls apart a little.”

Since returning from Florida in March, the Cardinals have managed five or more runs in just four games. They were outscored 33-5 in four games last weekend.

But Wednesday, they got two key seventh-inning hits to beat St. Lawrence 3-2, and then they plated six runs in a narrow loss in the nightcap. Conroy said she hopes they can take some momentum from those games into the weekend.

Email Courtney Lewis:clewis@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @sportsCourt

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