Delaney: Mounties season months in making
"It's a tight-knit group of girls and we've really been together as a team since summer when we started fundraising to go to Florida," Paragi said.
The Walt Disney World spring training trip produced two wins in two official games, and plenty of innings of work from scrimmages and unofficial games. The Mounties started their season at Disney, and they were ready to roll when they came home. The 20-2 Mounties start their second season Thursday with a Section III Class C-2 quarterfinal game against Thousand Islands. Game time is 5 p.m. Little Falls is the No. 2 seed. Thousand Islands, which advanced with a first-round win over Frankfort-Schuyler Tuesday, is No. 7.
In Florida, Little Falls defeated Section III Class AA Auburn and a team from Alabama. Little Falls' only losses are to league rivals Herkimer and Ilion.
"We had confidence coming back from the experience there," said Paragi in her sixth and most successful season.
The confidence produced a league title for the first time in two decades - "I think it was back in the 80s," Paragi said - but the Mounties also saw the potential to win a Section III title with some of the same athletes from the school's successful girls basketball teams.
Junior Nickie Van Meter has settled into the starting pitching role inherited from her sister, Kate. Nickie Van Meter, a year-round pitcher, has a reliable defense behind her and an offense led by a senior, a junior and the team's only freshman. Junior shortstop Olivia Tooley is the top hitter with a .453 batting average. Senior first baseman Sue Schoff is the RBI leader with 40 and she's third on the team with a .447 average. Freshman Jordan Mitchell is second in average (.452) and RBIs (37). Tooley, Schoff and Mitchell were members of the Little Falls girls basketball team that won a split-class title and played Bishop Grimes for the Class C overall championship.
Paragi, in her sixth and most successful season, benefited from being around many of her players for several years and having eight returning starters including six seniors. From Orlando to Cicero: they all hope the next big stop is for the Section III finals on June 6.
"The trip, really, that's where the momentum started and it's been carrying us through the season," Paragi said.