Heading into their playoff game with Lancaster High School, Emily Nicosia and her teammates had nothing to lose. They heard all the talk about how great Lancaster was, and how the Legends were undefeated.
Shoot, Lancaster took care of business against the Spartans earlier in the year to help with that undefeated season. But, the playoffs are alway a different animal, and the Spartans were ready for them.
They were coming into the game with no fear and with a pitcher in Nicosia who was ready to shut down the Legends at all cost.
“Going into our game against Lancaster, we were all extremely confident. We realized we had to play our game because all the pressure was on them since they were the number one seed,” stated Nicosia. “Jumping on them early was our main goal, which helped us remain confident throughout the game. We trusted in each other and kept our intensity up. Having a delay in the game was to our advantage because we had more time to focus on what we needed to due to secure our spot for the finals. We remained confident and came in fresh and ready to win the next day.”
Nicosia was lights out against Lancaster, but what else is knew. The Canisius College commit has been lights out here entire career for the Spartans - what’s another game. Ever since being called up to the varsity level, Nicosia has put this team on her back.
If she pitched well they were going to win - if not….well you probably know the answer.
“When I was a call up to varsity in eighth grade, the former pitcher, Sarah McMahon, wrote me a letter about what is expected at the varsity level,” stated Nicosia. “She also put a green ribbon in the envelope to wear all throughout my years on the team. Every year, I have worn the bow. I can’t play without it and must have it with me at every game. It brings me good luck and confidence.”
Since the early age of 8, when her father wanted her to join a sport to get involved and meet new people, Nicosia was always going to outwork the next person. She was always going to try and be better.
That type of mentality has helped her throughout her high school career. Her handwork during her time on the varsity since eight grade paid off when he was offered a Division I scholarship.
The recruiting process was something that she could do without, but Nicosia was excited to make her commitment to a local softball power like Canisius.
“To be completely honest, the recruiting process was stressful,” stated Nicosia. “Trying to find the college you like that has your major, size, and distance from home you like is difficult. However, it was exciting because you get to find the perfect fit for you. There are so many options out there and you get to find your home for the next four years.”
Here home will just be a few miles away in downtown Buffalo. The Griffs have been a Western New York softball power, and has even made the NCAA tournament. Being able to be part of that type of tradition is something that drew Nicosia.
“What drew me to Canisius in the first place was the amazing name it had around the Buffalo area. They have so many options for majors and have the best accounting program in the state,” explained Nicosia. “My father and grandfather attended Canisius and have come out with great educations. As I visited the campus, I loved the size and distance from home. I realized it was the perfect fit for me, along with the great softball program there.”
Before she could think about college, Nicosia still had one last ride in her at North. The Spartans hadn’t made it to the sectional finals since her freshman year, but that was about to change.
After knocking off the top seed in Lancaster, the Spartans took care of Orchard Park to advance in the playoffs. All of a sudden the season had turned into a magical ride for a senior class that had given so much to the program over the years.
When they talk about teams getting hot at the right time that was the Spartans. They got hot and stayed hot until falling in the regionals.
“Senior year is extremely bittersweet. Being my last year to ever play for North, it was the most amazing feeling making it to the Sectional Finals and finally getting that blue patch,” stated Nicosia. “The last time I have made it to this point was when I was a freshman. Our team this year is by far the best team I have been a part of. Every single one of those girls have impacted my life. We all got along so well and our chemistry off the field was definitely one of the reasons we made it so far. In the beginning of our season, it took us a few games to get our first win. Some games we struggled, and other games we came out with so much energy ready to win. It took us a bit to finally get set, but once we did, we had so much confidence that we could win.”
However, in sports, happy endings only happen to teams that win the title. The run in the playoffs was nice, but, at the end of the day, the Spartans fell short of their goal. For Nicosia losing was even tougher as that was the last time she would ever put on a North jersey and represent her school.
All the hard work over the years had finally come to an end and she still has a hard time knowing that he time has come.
“ Losing the Regional game was definitely hard. Realizing it was my last time ever playing for North and wearing number 18 was hard to grasp,” explained Nicosia. “I have been a part of this organization since I was in seventh grade and it’s not easy giving up something that has been a part of my life for so long. It still hasn’t truly set in that I won’t ever put on that jersey again. It was a great ride.”