Two softball freshmen leading Lakers out of cellar, into playoff chase

After stumbling out of the gate, the Oswego State softball team has ripped off four straight wins to put themselves in the thick of the SUNYAC playoff race, with a 7-3 conference record.

Of all the reasons behind this massive push, there is one glaring explanation as to why the Lakers have been able to find their footing.

The emergence of two freshman, Jessica Roe and Rebecca Vilchez, have done more than fill roles in the lineup, they have emerged as stars for the team.

Both players are not only star pitchers, but capable of excelling in the field and at the plate, all traits that have been driving forces in propelling the team up the standings.

Roe has become a mainstay in the Lakers’ starting rotation after taking advantage of injuries on the team to emerge as a commodity on her own.

The Wappingers Falls native ranks 14th in the SUNYAC, with an ERA of 3.78, and has been on the mound for a lot of big wins in conference that have given the Lakers control of their own destiny going into the playoffs.

In the batter’s box, she has been equally important, posting up a .310 batting average and nine RBI. Roe has started 22 of the team’s 25 games so far.

Vilchez has found the most success of this year’s freshman class and it was a shock that she ended up coming to Oswego State in the first place.

“She was an interesting one because I technically didn’t recruit her,” head coach Abby Martin said. “I didn’t know she was coming until probably the end of August which is usually too late to bring kids in at that point.”

Vilchez has been the bestfind for the Lakers this season, putting up a SUNYAC high 1.46 ERA and holding a record of 7-4, which is over half of the team’s win total.

Vilchez’s presence was sorely needed at Oswego State and she has been far and away been the ace on a staff that lacks top end depth.

“We lost a couple pitchers that were supposed to be here this year so it was kind of a blessing that she even got here in the first place,” Martin said.

Vilchez’s talent and experience all over the field gives her an edge when it comes to her mental approach when playing different positions.

“It’s definitely difficult,” Vilchez said. “It definitely helps me out in the end because it helps me understand the strike zone better for hitting because it lets me know where the umpire’s calling and for pitching it helps me know where to place the ball better.”

Martin is grateful for the gift she has been given in Vilchez and is confident in her ability to perform on the field.

“I knew that she was a Div. I talent coming to Oswego State and it would be my job to develop her into the kind of athlete that is going to be successful at this level and dominate in the way that I know that she can.” Martin said.

The Lakers head coach went so far as to compare Vilchez’s potential to her own successful college career that saw her named a NFCA First Team All-American while playing at SUNY Cortland.

“She actually reminds me a lot of myself doing the job in the circle and coming in and doing it offensively,” Martin said. “She’s definitely a leader.”

For all the success she has found in her short time at Oswego State, Vilchez credits her teammates as much as herself in all of her accomplishments.

“My confidence level is pretty high right now with my defense behind me,” Vilchez said. “They’ve been doing really well and it helps me so even if I mess up I know they have my back.”

As the stock of Roe and Vilchez rises over the remainder of the season, the team’s potential for success rises with them.