Flashback Friday looks at the top moments from the 2016-17 athletic year at the College of Staten Island. It’s time to usher in our bronze finisher for the year and coming in at No. 3 is the CSI Softball team’s finishing touches on their fifth-straight CUNYAC Championship in impressive fashion at the CSI Softball Complex on May 7, 2017.
#3 – Five-peat complete for CSI Softball
Date: May 7, 2017
Where: CSI Softball Complex, Staten Island, NY
What Happened: With the rich winning pedigree in tow, the College of Staten Island women’s softball team has made a habit of CUNYAC Championships, but with the bullseye on their back the Dolphins lived up to their heavy-favorite billing. On the weekend of May 6-7, the Dolphins out-smarted the rain and their opponents to the tune of an overall, 19-1, score through three games, winning the championship via a 5-0 shutout of Hunter College in the final game. Patricia Riches put the Dolphins up early with an RBI-double, but the Dolphins only led 1-0 before a three-run fifth inning helped the Dolphins cruise. Jacqueline Cautela was in the circle for the Dolphins, as she was for the Dolphins’ previous three titles, and for her efforts and thanks to another blanking in the big game she was named Tournament Most Valuable Player, winning that honor for the fourth-straight year. The Dolphins improved to 34-7 with the win, setting an all-time record for wins as they entered the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament for the fifth straight year.
Q&A…with Jacqueline Cautela
Jackie, you have known nothing but Championship softball here at CSI, but let’s start at the beginning. What made you choose CSI and playing softball here? All my life I dreamed of going away to college, but when the time came I could not imagine leaving home and I could not be happier that I chose to stay home and attend CSI and be apart of the CSI softball team. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s sad to think that my time playing softball has come to an end, but it was the greatest four years of my life.
Seemed like the entire team felt that this year’s team was going to be something special, maybe the best team you’ve been a part of. What was it like during the offseason preparing and getting ready for what you hope would be a great year? Every year we have one goal and that is to win the CUNY championship and to go even further than we did the year before. This team was hard working and dedicated. In the off season everyone attended workouts with the trainer and we all worked hard to reach our goal. We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but we knew we could do it and we did. Although we did not go as far as we wanted to, I could not have been more proud of this team and the outcome we had this season.
Going into this season, you were the defending champs and undoubtedly a heavy favorite in the conference. Is it easier or harder to play with that weight on your shoulders coming into the season? It is a blessing to play with the weight of being number one on our shoulders. It is a great feeling knowing that we are that team that everyone fears to play. We worked hard and deserved everything we got this season. We never underestimated any of our opponents and we played every game like it was our last.
You personally started the season off on an absolute tear, leading the nation in ERA and not allowing an earned run in forever. When I spoke to you during the season, even you were a bit surprised. What was working for you during those first few weeks of the season? I went into this season knowing that I had to give it my all because this was my final year I would be wearing that uniform and representing CSI. I worked hard in the off season and it is rewarding to see that my hard work has paid off. I just gave every game my all and thankfully that worked for me this season.
After a great regular season you guys entered the CUNYAC Tournament and really won with tremendous pitching and defense. Everyone knows this team can score runs, but how proud are you as a pitcher knowing you only gave up 1 run and 10 hits over three games that weekend? I would have been nothing this season without my team behind me. It was a great feeling to go into that circle knowing that I had this team playing defense behind me. It made it easier for me on the mound knowing that my team would make the plays behind me.
In that final game against Hunter, you were only up 1-0 going into the fifth before you really put some distance with a big fifth inning, and you scored a run there. At what point did you feel confident that you had this game closed out? I felt confident the whole game that we were going to win. I couldn’t imagine losing the CUNY championship my senior year. Although we only led by a run for the first five innings I had faith in my team that we were going to take home that championship.
To win four straight championships in your career is wonderful, but to be named MVP has to be overwhelming, knowing how many great players are on this team. What does winning an award like that mean to you, and how great a feeling is it to be the MVP four years in a row? It is honestly so surreal to win the CUNY Championship every year I have been outside and it was even more amazing to be named the tournament MVP for the past four years. I really don’t know what I am going to do without this game anymore, but I couldn’t be happier with the career I had at CSI.
You guys went on to another solid appearance at the Regionals and although it was hard to see the season end there, you can’t deny what a great run it has been. When you look back at what this team has accomplished over the last four years, how would you describe it? It is incredible to see how much this softball program has grown over the past four years. My freshman year we would get mercied out in regionals and be the first team to go home and now my senior year we were one game away from the tournament championship. It has been an honor to watch this team transform.
Jackie, after an incredible career with CSI, how would you categorize your career and what CSI Softball has done for you personally? My experience at CSI has been nothing but incredible. I cannot believe how fast these past four years have flown by. It is sad to think I won’t be wearing that uniform or playing on that field anymore. I could not thank this game enough for all the memories and friendships it has given me. The CSI softball program has exceeded my expectations and I could not be happier that I chose to stay home for college. Thank you CSI for the greatest 4 years.