By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE April 12, 2002 For the 2002 Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) softball squad, its a story of the season that never was.
At 4 p.m. Monday, SCCC Athletic Director and softball Coach Chris DePew pulled the plug on the idea of fielding a team this year after only four prospective players showed up at was to be the first team meeting. Those four were Amanda Cox and Rachelle Irwin of Livingston Manor, Nicole Feller of Red Hook and Libertys Jacque LaBaugh.
With the decision to axe the 2002 softball program, several talented local players are left with no place to go except to hope for another turn at bat next season.
Fourteen girls had signed up in September, but after semester grades were posted the team was down to 11. Due to conflicts with work schedules, two more players were in doubt, so in essence the active roster was reduced to the minimum of nine players required to field a softball team.
I feel awful for the sophomores who were going to play this year, said DePew.
Because SCCC is a two-year community college, sophomores will graduate in May.
Cox, Feller and Carly Sklar of Liberty played for SCCC last season, and were all set to go in 2002.
Last week, Cox was tabbed as the NJCAA Region XV Softball Pre-Season First Team All-America shortstop. With the decision to drop the program this year, Cox wont get a chance to play.
I feel terrible for her, said DePew. Shes a great kid, and a tremendous student-athlete at Sullivan in basketball and softball . . . if we had five or six Amandas, wed be OK. Shes probably the best female athlete weve ever had in this school.
In 2001, the SCCC softball team posted a 5-11 record, qualifying for the 8th seed in the Region XV tourney. In the opening round, they defeated top-seeded Suffolk Community College 9-2.
After advancing to the final four, the Lady Generals lost 3-1 to Ulster Community College and 7-2 to Dutchess Community College. Sullivan tied for third-place with Ulster in Region XV.
According to DePew, he hasnt given up on fielding a team next year.
The freshmen have indicated they are interested in playing next season, and we have secured a few recruits, he said.
There are 18 junior colleges in NJCAA Region XV. With SCCCs painful call not to field a team this year, that makes eight out of the 18 schools to drop softball in 2002.
DePew said that on the regional and national level, female participation in organized junior college sports programs is down dramatically.
He also noted that several schools have decided to upgrade their programs for women athletes by offering scholarships, rather than eliminating sports offerings.
DePew said that last year neighboring Orange County Community College (OCCC) failed to field womens basketball and softball teams because of the lack of numbers. After the OCCC board of trustees OKd moving up to Division II from Division III, just the word scholarship has re-invented their programs.
According to DePew, SCCC is taking a serious look at three womens sports programs basketball, softball and volleyball with the idea of sparking more interest and participation next year.