The College of Staten Island women’s softball program recently capped a terrific season on the diamond, and finalized the 2011 campaign by taking a total of seven post-season awards, including four of the five major nods for softball. Junior Kaitlyn Flynn cruised to Player of the Year honors, while fellow junior hurler Danielle Ponsiglione garnered her second-straight Pitcher of the Year citation, as did Raechel Strobel, who took her second straight yearly honor with the CUNYAC Sportsmanship Award. Ninth-year head coach Dr. Stella Porto, who led the Dolphins to their fifth NCAA National Tournament appearance and its seventh-straight 20-win season took home Coach of the Year honors. Capping the list of annals was a first-team All-Star citation for Strobel and second-team honors for senior Joanna Tepedino and sophomore Kristi Dillon.
The impeccable assault on the CUNYAC leaderboard was led by third-baseman Flynn, who powered through a tremendous season, en route to a unanimous choice for Player of the Year honors. Flynn finished the season batting .469, slugging .715 while spreading out 10 doubles and a team-high five triples and four homers. Her 61 hits set a new CSI single-season record, and the junior is 16th all time at CSI with a career .380 average, including a career-tying 14 homeruns.
Kaitlyn has had a tremendous season,” said Porto. “She has become a mentor for the whole team and exhibits a lot of confidence that translated to the rest of the team. On the field she’s been nothing but stellar between her monster arm at third base and what she done at the plate.”
Joining Flynn with yearly honors is Ponsiglione, whose work within the circle was the backbone of the team’s 26-13 season. The junior is crushing the CSI record books, as Ponsiglione now owns Staten Island records for wins (44), complete games (65), and innings pitched (454.2). The junior right-hander tossed 144 innings this season, complete with a 13-7 record and 2.82 ERA. The nation’s leader in walks to innings pitched, Ponsiglione walked just three batters next to 106 strikeouts.
“She has exceptional control both physically and mentally,” tells Porto. “She has been a great player for us and does everything it takes to keep us going. She puts in a lot of hard work and is has become very confident and is one of the nation’s best pitchers.”
One of two honored seniors on the all-star list, Raechel Strobel is a four-time all-star who has won back-to-back CUNYAC Sportsmanship Awards. The slugger batted a crisp .385, spreading out 21 RBI and scoring 29 runs, platooning second base. Alongside her tremendous accomplishments on the field, this CUNYAC Scholar Athlete of the Year nominee led by example, according to her coach.
“Raechel tutors every student and makes everyone a better person,” she said. “She’s a great leader, the nicest person, and a role model out there on the field. On top of it all she has been extremely fun to coach, she’s a great listener and has been a valuable asset for us.”
Rounding out the list of achievements for the Dolphins are all-stars Joanna Tepedino and Kristi Dillon.
Tepedino enjoyed a fabulous season, batting a healthy .408, leading the team in doubles (16) and RBI (39), also laying claim to a .981 fielding percentage at first base. The senior is CSI’s all-time career leader in put-outs (931) while her 138 career hits finish her 8th all-time at the college. Dillon, only a sophomore, already is 4th in CSI history in career stolen bases with 42. her 24 alone in 2011 were a CSI record, and the leadoff threat secured a .328 average this season with four extra bases and 10 walks.
“Joanna is one of the best defensive players we have ever had and she adds a huge bat,” said Porto. “She has really matured for us this year. Kristi is a real bright spot and a future leader for us. She is explosive on the base paths and if she’s able to get on base she is always a threat to score.”
The yearly honors are a punctuation mark on one of the finest CSI seasons in history. The senior-laden squad posted 26 wins, the third highest in school history, boasting a team batting average of .339. The team’s yearly total in hits (360), doubles (61), fielding percentage (.951), and walks allowed (42), were all the third-highest marks in school history. On top it all the Dolphins posted their 14th CUNYAC Championship at year’s end, making their fifth appearance at the NCAA Regionals, a run that resulted in Porto’s Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in her career.
“This has been such an incredible year and this is a great honor,” the coach said. “Seeing our program develop the way it has is a great experience and to be given Coach of the Year for it makes it even better.”
The Dolphins will look forward to officially closing out their season on Friday, when they participate in the CSI Athletic Awards Banquet.