By Karina Baxter
“I wasn’t a good softball player at all,” Corie Araneo said. “But the first time I touched the ball I fell in love.”
Prior to graduating from Mattituck High School in 2012, Araneo played on her high school team for six years. She only saw the field for about a short amount of time before she was asked to switch with another team member. A total of 20 minutes a season was the average amount of playing time this young athlete had, divided into a ten week long period.
Araneo didn’t play like the normal children who devoted time to perfect the art of hitting a ball with a bat at an early age like Tee ball. Araneo began playing in 7th grade as a friend of hers, Kaitlin encouraged her to get into the game.
Kaitlin: “You should play softball.”
Corie: “You already have a set team.”
Kaitlin: “Come and play, come and play.”
Corie: “Why do you want me to play so bad?”
Kaitlin: “because you have the body of a catcher and we need catcher.”
Tryouts were a three-day long period with cuts on the final day. There was no middle school league, so students in 7th through 10th grade fought for the positions on the junior varsity league.
Interested in the thought of becoming part of a team, Araneo decided to try-out. The only issue was her that doctor’s appointment was scheduled two days after the first day of tryouts.
Watching from the sidelines the first two days of tryouts, Araneo felt discouraged learning the game the third day and debated whether or not she should even try out at all.
Sticking to her promise, she showed up to the last day with not a clue to what she was doing. Lacking the ability to catch and throw the ball. Araneo felt like she wasted her time; she doubted herself.
It was raining, the grounds where mucky and messy, and everyone looked like they came out of a giant mud pit. Araneo felt dirty and gross and wondered if she went through all of this just to receive a denial.
“Why am I here,” she thought. Nervous for the results, she patiently waited for the determining factor on whether or not she can return the following day as an official member of the team.
When the roaster was posted, Araneo eagerly went over to look and saw that she had made the team. A feeling of satisfaction came about the young new athlete because all the work she put into trying to make the team paid off.
During her first season on the team, Araneo did not get much playing time. This was her first season as a softball player, so it was mainly a season of observing and watching.
“I can remember watching her play in high school and seeing how timid she was if the ball came toward her,” friend JoAnna Macmahon said.
It wasn’t until senior year of High School when Araneo found her stride and began realizing she had more to offer this sport than sitting on the bench for the majority of the season. She began to find her stride in batting but still needed improvement as a fielder.
“Coach doesn’t think I’m a good fielder.” Araneo said to a high school teammate.
“That not why you’re not playing. You don’t believe in yourself,” she said. “Next time you’re playing in a game, believe.”
It was from that moment Araneo began to get into the “I can do this, I can do this!” mind set. Within the next couple of practices improvements were coming in.
The fact that she had improved in batting is when Araneo decided to continue with softball at the college level.
Nervous for tryouts, Araneo felt hesitant and for a moment considered giving it up. She called the Suffolk College softball coach for a little encouragement.
“She wasn’t sure if she was going to be good enough. A lot of girls have that issue. Head Coach Joseph LoBianco said. “We work hard and learn a lot about the game on my team. She has improved a lot. If they are dedicated then they will get better and she did.”
“I walked into the gym and all these girls were staring at me and I was like oh my god, what am I doing here, I do not belong. But quickly I got to know the girls and realized they were not big and scary but genuine.”
Araneo started her first season of college softball as a designated hitter. Which means she would hit for a teammate when they could not. Usually, she would see the field every game but it would only be for a moment until she was asked to return back onto the bench.
“In sports as in life, you never get it perfect, so you always have to work on it. You will never get it right. The better you are, the more you have to work. I’m always working to improve. I am never satisfied and she should never be satisfied.” LoBianco said.
The love for the sport was more enjoyable than the ranking Araneo was put on. She may not have been one of the best players on the team but it was her teammates that soon became family and her coaches who were her greatest mentors that kept the young athlete in the game.
“Corie has taken on a stronger leadership role in her second year of playing for Suffolk Softball. She is a dedicated student athlete and serves as a strong example for other members of the team,” Assistant Coach Brittany Sherwood said.
“The coaches were the first people who really cared. They learned my strengths and my weakness’s and worked on them until I got it right,” Araneo said.
Now as a sophomore, Araneo starts every single game. She has made incredible achievements since her early ages of softball and will continue to achieve as she graduates Suffolk and continues her education at the University of Delaware.
Araneo will not be playing softball her first year as a transfer so she can focus on her academic and become more comfortable at a new environment. But is considering the idea of trying out her second year.