BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time since 2009, Canisius softball won the MAAC title and is now heading to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship Regional.
“I’m so excited for the girls because I’ve been wanting this for them for a long time so it’s just awesome to see them accomplish the goal that we set out for at the beginning of the season,” Canisius head coach Kim Griffin told News 4 Sports.
And for a number of the players, they’re getting to experience this in their hometown as many are from Western New York, like senior pitcher Emily Nicosia who graduated high school from Williamsville North.
“It’s amazing, actually some of my high school coaches were involved on the team that won the last MAAC championship so it was really cool and they congratulated me and it’s awesome to finally bring that back to Buffalo and actually win a MAAC championship here so it was awesome,” Emily told News 4 Sports.
Sophomore pitcher Megan Giese is also from the area having played high school softball at Orchard Park and was named the MAAC Softball Championship Most Outstanding Player.
“We all bought in to the same thing which I think is a huge part of it. We were all working towards the same goal, we knew what we wanted and we worked together and we got it,” Megan told News 4 Sports.
“Megan has just been on fire throughout the whole season. She’s consistent, even when she doesn’t have her best she’s still able to be creative and be consistent on the mound so her presence, her confidence, her composure is championship level,” Coach Griffin said.
The Griffs beat Siena 4-0 in the MAAC title game on Saturday but before that, they had make a major comeback in the semifinal game against Iona. Canisius was down 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning and down to the final out before the rally began.
“I keep thinking back to Sophia Recrosio, she’s up to bat with two outs bottom of the seventh inning and she comes up with a clutch hit and from that moment on it was like ok we got this,” Coach Griffin said.
“We kind of just said never say die. If there’s an out left on the scoreboard we’re still in the game and for them to trust that, to trust each other that’s what got us where we are now.”
Sophomore Christie McGee-Ross had the game-winning RBI as the Griffs won it in walk-off fashion, 2-1 in the semifinal against Iona. The next day it was a shutout to win the MAAC championship and now Canisius will face Florida to open NCAA play on Friday.
“I’ve watched Florida on TV for years so it’s cool that we’re actually going to play them right now so I’m just really excited to go and have fun,” Emily explained.
“They’re fast, they play a similar style of softball as we do so it’s not something that we haven’t seen. They’re fast, they’re powerful. The one thing that I think they don’t have is that dominating pitcher that they’ve always had in the past that’s led them to be in the one through five rankings. So I think if we go and play our game we’ve got a shot,” Coach Griffin said.
“It’s definitely gonna be a lot more fans than we’re used to, bigger environment but I think right now if we stick to our plan and just kind of stay within ourselves, see our families in the stands, things like that, that’s gonna calm us down and keep us present in the moment to just have fun,” Emily said.
Even though the stage is much bigger, the Griffs are focused on their game.
“We’re gonna try and take that energy that we had winning the MAACs and just kind of take it in to next game playing Florida,” Megan said.
And Coach Griffin’s message to the team is simple.
“One is enjoy every moment, they worked really hard to get here and two that if we play our game we can beat anybody. So not to just go in there with an attitude of being happy to be there being ready to compete.”
Canisius takes on No. 14 Florida on Friday at 4:30 in the Gainesville Regional.