Dryden softball eager to play together

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Dryden softball reached the Section IV playoffs last year at the Class B level and was set to bring back a young team of 11 athletes with only two seniors.

After excitement started brewing for the team to get together this year, the spring sports season was canceled, and the team will now have to wait until at least the summer to share the field.

This is the second consecutive year that the team has been challenged. Last year, while renovations were happening at the high school, the softball team was left without a field and had to make do without playing at home. This year, they won’t get to play at all.

Dave Allen is at the helm of the Lions and sees the year-to-year swings high school athletics take. This year, he felt his team was on the upswing.

“I think we had a good team,” Allen said. “We were young, but they were all so eager and hungry to play. You don’t always have that from year to year. I had a group of girls that all really wanted it, even being young. I was looking forward to this season. Not that you don’t look forward to every season, but I was optimistic.”

On the field, Dryden had one IAC All-Star, and that was pitcher Alexa Sicina. She was one of two seniors on this year’s team alongside team captain Caelan Murphy and won’t get to see her hard work pay off in a Dryden uniform.

Instead, she’ll be continuing her career at Onondaga Community College. Allen, who describes Sicina’s pitching ability as “hard to come by,” discussed her impact on the team.

“The bright side is I’m only losing two [seniors],” Allen said. “One, unfortunately, is [Alexa]. She’s a really good pitcher. The girl works all year long, and it makes you feel bad for her to miss out on her senior year. She takes pitching lessons every week. Since last season, she pitches at home once or twice a week. That girl works.”

School was initially postponed in New York the very first day that Dryden got together as a team following evaluations. After learning that there would be no school following that weekend, Allen had the team collect whatever they needed from their lockers. There was a general sense of optimism that there would be more to this season, though.

“We talked and we really thought we were going to get back together later on,” Allen said. “Maybe not Monday, but we thought we’d get together that week. It was rough. I haven’t seen the group again in person. We haven’t seen each other. We’ve talked and reached out to a lot of them, and it’s a lot of disappointment. You never really know if you’re saying the right thing to them or not. There’s nothing about this in the coaching manual.”

Optimism for the spring has shifted to optimism for the summer, when most of the varsity team plays together on a U17 squad called the Purple Storm under coach Allen. However, the outlook for that season is looking bleak as well.

“That’s up in the air now, but it’s looking grimmer,” Allen said. “I don’t know what to think if that gets canceled. [It would be] terrible because they’re all looking forward to that.”

Allen has taken advantage of the downtime, though, by running a can and bottle drive in Dryden to raise money for both the team and a good cause. Part of the funds raised will benefit the Dryden HANDS Fund, which stands for Help a Needy Dryden Student.

“As the head coach, when I leave the program someday, you try to leave it better than when you got it,” Allen said. “We really need new uniforms. In the meantime, I was trying to think of another way that we could help out the community, and that’s why we decided to donate a percentage of what we get from the bottle and can drive to the Dryden HANDS Fund.”

Allen explained that uniforms are supposed to be on a five-year rotation, but they are passed that point. He also hopes, depending on the fundraiser’s success, that extra funds can be donated to more improvements to Dryden’s softball field.

As optimistic as the team has been through the process, Allen noted that the full cancellation of the school year took the “wind out of the sails” for many athletes, coaches and even parents. The lack of softball has led to an overwhelming sense of eagerness on the team that hopefully will be resolved sooner rather than later.

For those who want to donate to the bottle and can drive, you can visit the truck at Kinney Pharmacy on North Street in Dryden.

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