Short hops: Making the most of her opportunity
by Matthew Ondesko, Owner
Photos: Buffalo State Athletics
Sarah Congelosi didn’t really know what to expect when she stepped on the campus of Buffalo State. The native of Montgomery, NY wasn’t sure what her role was going to be on the softball team, or is she was even going to play.
That’s a lot different then her time at Valley Central where she played all the time, and she knew her name was going to be in the lineup every day. There were times during her freshman year that Congelosi needed to lean on her teammates.
“The transition from high school to collegial softball definitely was not easy, it’s more of a commitment of your time and energy into bettering yourself and your team,” stated Congelosi. “The only way I was able compete at the level I did my freshman year was leaning on my teammates for help along the way and remembering why I play softball to begin with, for the love of the game.”
Her freshman year was a struggle out of the gate. Congelosi wasn’t getting much playing time, and she was watching her teammates have all the success on the field. She knew, in the beginning, she wasn’t living up to her own expectations.
That she needed to put the extra time in to build up the trust of her teammates, and the coaching staff. Toward the end of her freshman season, Congelosi was able to get back in the starting lineup, which would be beneficial for her sophomore year.
“Honestly I did not get as much playing time in the beginning of the season, I wasn’t playing as effectively as Coach Brown knew I could so I didn’t play for some games,” stated Congelosi. “Towards the end of the season I got the opportunity to prove myself again and I took full advantage of that.”
Congelosi took her opportunity and ran with it, especially this past season. The sophomore was a constant in the lineup - starting 36 of 38 games and hitting a cool .402 average with 16 runs batted in.
She had that kind of year even with a position change. This season, Congelosi went from second base over to short. It’s not like she never played the position before. To say it was a journey is an understatement. Congelosi had her struggles, but put in the extra work to get comfortable once again at the position.
“My transition from second to short stop was definitely a journey, my main problem with my transition was becoming comfortable again at shortstop,” stated Congelosi .I” believe toward the end of the season I did get more comfortable, but I have a long way to go and a lot more work to do.”
While the transition didn’t go as smoothly as Congelosi would have liked. She still goes out there every day and puts in the extra work to get better. She knows grinding everyday, and taking the extra grounders, can only make the transition that much smoother when it comes to fall ball in September.
If there is one thing that Congelosi doesn’t want to be is a liability in the field. She knows she can rake at this level, now it’s making the plays that she needs to make.
“I put in a lot of extra time and effort to improve my defensive game. I was always asking for extra ground balls, always asking questions, always asking my teammates to watch me field, and always working on my glove work, the little things matter,” stated Congelosi. “It is very important to be an all around player in my opinion. To be able to provide for your team in all aspects of the game is important. But with that being said you’re not going to be able to be an all around player all of the time and that’s okay, softball is a sport of failure it’s just part of the game.”
She hasn’t failed much during her time at Buffalo State. Even during her freshman year, Congelosi was raking, and that carried over to this year. She has an understanding of what she wants to do at the plate every time she steps in the batter box.
That plan starts on the on deck circle. She takes a look at what the pitcher is throwing. Then when she steps in the box Congelosi forgets everything - and just goes back to her game plan.
“Before I even go out to the box I like to get an understanding of what the pitcher is throwing, and then the second I step in the box I forget about it,” stated Congelosi. “Once I step into the box it is me and the pitcher and no one else, my mission is to beat her and whatever she may throw my way. I usually repeat a phrase or saying, something to keep my mind calm and focused. For example, I may say “fast to the ball” or “extension.”
Everything Congelosi is doing on the field is even more impressive considering she is a psychology major. Being a student-athlete is never easy. It takes a lot of time, and commitment, both on and off the field.
There are times it can very tough, juggling both. Congelosi, however, wouldn't have it any other way. She likes to compete on the field and learn off it.
“Being a psychology major it is definitely hard sometimes trying to juggle athletics and academics,” stated Congelosi. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love learning and I love competing and trying to find balance between the two is just bettering me as a person.”
As summer begins, Congelosi will take time out for herself before getting back to the daily grind. She has a lot of goals for herself as she enters her junior year.
“As I enter my junior year, I definitely have some goals for myself,” stated Congelosi. “1) being a leader on and off the field for my teammates 2) focusing on the positives in practice/games 3) getting more comfortable and fluid in the shortstop position and 4) improving my hitting mechanics and pitch selection (and yes, hitting my first home run would be nice too).”