Over the last several seasons the Staten Island Dolphins have the team to beat when it comes to CUNYAC softball. Staten Island won their fourth straight CUNYAC title last season after dismantling Hunter College 8-0 in five innings. The Dolphins have their sights set on a fifth straight CUNYAC title this season as well as a goal to make it out of the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. The Dolphins have been making ground in the NCAA’s, in the last two seasons they have won a game each year.
Head Coach Stella Porto had this to say on her team “We have a lot of seniority on this year’s team that brings a lot of leadership and experience to an otherwise young roster.” The Dolphins have five seniors on this year’s team spearheaded by two-time CUNYAC Pitcher of the Year, Jacqueline Cautela.
Cautela led the Dolphins to a 26-14 record last season which also saw Coach Porto pick up her 300th career win while they were in Texas to start their season. This season, the Dolphins will start in sunny Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Sports Complex where they will play in eight games over a five day span.
CSI lost two of their starters, Christina Tufano and Chyanne Gilliam, to graduation after last season and will look to the newcomers to pick up where they left off. Four-time Staten Island Advance All-Star Patricia Riches, who was also voted as a Top-25 shortstop, will look to make an impact in her first season as a Dolphin. Riches has much success at the high school level and will hope to transfer that success over to the college field.
When asked who would fill their shoes coach Porto said “Antoinette Galbo will slide into her natural position at third base and share duties with Kristen Meagher while Julianna Cretella will be inserted into right field.” The Dolphins are carrying their biggest roster under Coach Porto at 20 girls, which gives depth and options at each position.
Another newcomer looking to make a splash as a Dolphin is sophomore transfer Alison Meagher, a 5-10 pitcher that transferred from Rider University. Coach Porto had this to say on Meagher transferring in “Meagher gives us even more depth at our pitching position and gives us a solid four girl rotation which will be needed against the stronger out of conference games.”
Coach Porto continues to bring in outstanding talent from all around the region which shows on the playing field as shown by her four straight CUNYAC titles. The Dolphins’ roster this year is filled with six new faces and seven sophomores. Porto’s ability to recruit is unmatched in the CUNYAC and will once again be on display this season.
“Our girls are not intimidated by the spotlight that comes with being a Dolphin, I feel our new girls will adjust to the college speed quickly and adapt accordingly,” Porto noted. “I feel a lot of our new faces will fit right into our squad and make for a nice rotation.
Porto always stacks her out of conference schedule with nationally ranked powers to prepare her team for the postseason. No. 17 Moravian has been a staple on the Dolphins’ roster year in and year out as they give the Dolphins a quality opponent that brings the best out in them. The Dolphins will play the
Greyhounds towards the end of the season which will prepare them to have not only a successful CUNYAC title defense, for the fifth straight year, but also for the NCAA’s.
“Our biggest strength this season will be our pitching nucleus, followed by a strong line up,” Porto said. Our starting lineup has the ability to hit a homerun no matter if they’re the number one in the lineup or number nine, they all have power.”
With that, Coach Porto will head into her 15th season with yet another target on her back. “I think our girls play better knowing that when they step out on that field that they are getting the other team’s best and they shouldn’t take anyone lightly.”
Porto wants her team to have a successful title defense and to have fun while doing it. “It brings me great joy to see my girls winning and having fun while doing it, that’s what drives me to be the coach I am today.”
CSI home softball games are FREE and PG-CLUE Certified for all students. Most CSI home games will be broadcast live via CSI SportsNet and will feature live statistics as well. After this week’s trip to Orlando for four doubleheaders, the Dolphins will play the back-to-back home games starting with Purchase College on March, 18 at 1:00 pm. CUNYAC play opens up against Lehman College on March 25 at 12:00 pm.