No sophomore slump for Cal (Pa.) softball player Reicoff
Playing softball in the PSAC is not for the faint of heart. With four NCAA champions and five national runners-up in the past 30 years, the conference has a well-earned reputation as one of the best in Division II.
To have a freshman come in and be one of the league's dominant players is almost unthinkable. Except someone forgot to tell Lindsay Reicoff.
Last year, fresh out of Chartiers Valley, Reicoff had an unforgettable season for California (Pa.). Her accomplishments in one season read like a career for some:
• National Fastpitch Coaches Association and Daktronics second-team All-American
• NFCA and Daktronics first-team all-region
• Daktronics Regional Player of the Year
• PSAC West Freshman of the Year and first team
• Led team with .401 batting average, 13 home runs (tying a school freshman record), 44 RBIs, 108 total bases, 16 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI games
“I worked really hard in the summer,” Reicoff said about the time between graduating from Char Valley and enrolling at Cal. “But I think it was just practicing in the fall and then our preparation in the winter for the spring was especially good.”
Coach Rick Bertagnolli saw right away that Reicoff could be successful in the demanding PSAC. In the 2013 season opener, Cal outlasted Concord, 9-7, and Reicoff went 3 for 4 with a run in her debut.
She followed that with a 2-for-4, 2-RBI performance against UNC-Pembroke.
Once the Vulcans got into PSAC competition, she was even better, hitting .426 against conference foes.
“You always hope for the best, but freshmen coming in … it's as difficult as it can be,” Bertagnolli said. “But she definitely surpassed expectations playing as well as she did.
“She obviously brings a great bat, but she's also very good defensively, and she also runs well.”
Though Reicoff plays primarily first base, she is listed on Cal's roster as a utility player, and her utilitarian value even extends to the pitching rubber. She made six starts last year, posting a 2-0 record with a 4.05 ERA.
With all the numbers Reicoff amassed last year, 2014 opened with a big question: What does she do for an encore?
Reicoff wasn't overly concerned about outside expectations because she puts more pressure on herself than anyone.
“If I did that last season, then I should do that this season, if not better,” she said. “I feel better prepared this time around because I've seen what it's all about.”
Bertagnolli, though, tries to keep things in perspective.
“Whenever an athlete has an outstanding year like that … coming back the next year people on the outside say, ‘You're going to do great. You're going to do better than you did the past year,' ” he said. “But everybody else gets better, too. You have to keep a level head, and we've discussed that. Don't try to do anything special. Just do what you can do and stay within those parameters.”
Reicoff has shown that 2013 was no stroke of beginner's luck. Through Cal's first 19 games, Reicoff is hitting .389 with five homers and 15 RBIs.
All that despite not seeing as many choice pitches this year and finding little chance for consistency with the harsh early spring weather chopping up the Vulcans' schedule.
The early returns for Reicoff have been outstanding, and Bertagnolli believes she still has a ways to go before reaching her ceiling.
“If nothing comes up with her as far as injuries, she has a big, big upside,” he said. “I don't like to make any predictions, but Lindsay Reicoff could be a special player to come out of this area one day.”
Chuck Curti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.