Oriskany softball proud of impressive season

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ORISKANY — There’s a moment for some teams during a season where you can pinpoint things are going to be special.

Oriskany softball coach Mike Reilly didn’t hesitate when asked about that moment for this season’s squad made up of 11 players self-described as close-knit. The team also seemed largely unconcerned about any pressure they faced as they literally danced their way deep into the postseason. 

“I think the turning point in the season was the way we bounced back from the loss at Poland,” said Reilly, referring to April 27 against their Center State Conference rival when Oriskany had an early lead. “It was a game we had in hand. … We had a few errors and they ended up (winning).”

It ended as a three-run loss for Oriskany, which was 5-3 at that point. It would be the last loss for Oriskany for more than 40 days. 

“From the way we bounced back in practice the next day, they turned it around,” Reilly said.

The team won seven of its next eight games by nine or more runs and eventually earned a share of the Center State Conference division title and the No. 2 playoff seed. The squad rolled to a Section III Class D title – topping Poland by a run for Oriskany’s first championship since 2009 – and into the state semifinals.

“We have fun. It’s been awesome. We worked pretty well as a team all season. We are a pretty close-knit group of friends, even in school and when it comes to practice,” said senior Jordyn Carlo after that Section III title win May 31. “We can have fun, but we know we are there to work.”

And, while Oriskany’s momentum got them to the state finals, it ended in a loss against a dominant Deposit-Hancock team last weekend. Oriskany finished 19-4 overall and ranked No. 3 in the season-ending New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports poll. 

“This season meant a lot (to the program). It is obviously a great achievement for these kids that they got to the state championship. (It) hurts a little bit from losing that championship game. They’re holding their heads up and proud of what they accomplished,” Reilly said. “I said, ‘Eventually, you’re going to realize that you made history in your school.’”

Oriskany – with 137 total high school students – was the second smallest district to advance to the state semifinals. Only semifinal opponent, Argyle (108 students), was smaller. 

“It was a great experience,” said Reilly, who noted that the team got an escort from the police and fire departments after they returned early Sunday morning. 

Oriskany graduates three seniors: centerfielder Carlo, shortstop Ashley Reid and first baseman Ashley Burnop. 

Reilly said the team will miss their leadership. Reilly pointed to Carlo as the team’s biggest leader. 

“I’m just telling people ‘it is OK. You’ve got this. You have the next one.’ Even in school, someone isn’t doing well or they’re having a bad day, ‘just pick yourself up. You’ll get this next one,” Carlo said after the Section III title win.

The team is set to return seven players with starting experience next spring. That includes Juliet Tagliaferri for a third year in the pitching circle as well as Kaelyn Buehler, who took over the catchering duties as a sophomore. Megan Wright and Brooke Mayts – among four sophomores on this year’s team – and Lani Roberts and Kaylee Burnop – two of four juniors on the roster this spring – are among the standouts expected to return. Junior Mya Melvin and sophomore Kyla Zabek also contributed.

“We’ve got some holes to fill,” Reilly said. “We always have talent coming back at Oriskany. I’m looking forward to seeing the younger players that are coming up. We have a great core coming back.”

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