Every Monday night, the Women’s Lower B division of Kingston Recreation softball takes to the field at Block Park for what has been described by players as the most “laid back” experience on the diamond. Not that the teams, five in all, aren’t trying to win. They just want to have fun along the way.
Nicole Fuoco is the team captain and third baseman of the Lower B’s top team, sponsored by Ulster Savings Bank. As of press time, they’re in first place with a 7-2 overall record. A KHS Class of 2009 alum, Fuoco grew up playing softball, and is currently in her fourth year playing in Kingston Rec. The team was founded by Cassidy Scanlon, and though she still plays the outfield for Ulster Savings, she asked Fuoco to take over the detail-oriented work of captain heading into this season. Though the captaincy changed, the team has mostly been the same since its inception.
“Our team is pretty lucky in that we have a core group that’s been playing together, some of us, since little league,” said Fuoco, who works for Jordan Trading. “For the most part everybody is in the same spot each week.”
Though they swing for the fences when they come to bat, Fuoco stressed that much of the motivation for playing at the Lower B level is camaraderie.
“For us, we want to have a good time and have fun,” she said. “We’re all pretty much friends, so it’s kind of one night a week we get to go out, enjoy being outside in the nice weather. We’re down by the water. And it’s just a good group of girls. We get along and enjoy hanging out with each other. We know each other’s boyfriends or husbands. Some of them have kids, and the kids come. It’s just something good to do in the community. The other teams are also friendly. It’s not hyper competitive. A is competitive.”
There are three different divisions in Kingston Rec women’s softball, with the four-team A division its most competitive. The Upper B division has nine teams, four of which — The Diamond Vets, Spinnenweber, The Wine Hutch, and Hickory BBQ — are battling it out for first place.
There’s a similar logjam atop the Lower B division, with Ulster Savings Bank and Miss Shannah’s Place within a half-game of one another. They’ll meet again on Monday, Aug. 6 in the final game of the regular season. Their last time out, a game played on Monday, July 2, Miss Shannah’s Place beat Ulster Savings 15-7, with Tina Burris (home run, three singles), Becky Brocco (double, two singles), Abby Brocco (double) and team captain Shannah Drake (three singles) all contributing.
Drake, a 2005 graduate of Rondout Valley High School, has been in the league for the past six seasons, but she started Miss Shannah’s Place — named after her daycare business — prior to this season.
“The team I was playing on the previous year decided they were not going to put a team,” she said. “I took some of the girls from that team, brought in some new girls, and we put a team together overnight.”
It was an uncharacteristically stressful introduction to a team, like Ulster Savings Bank, that’s in it to win, as long as everyone is having fun.
“It’s just laid back,” said Drake. “A lot of my girlfriends play in Upper B and A, and it’s way more competitive. We do it for fun. Everybody’s not freaking out if we’re losing. In other leagues they take that stuff seriously.”
Also like Ulster Savings, the players on Miss Shannah’s Place are very familiar with one another. “I’ve played with all of them in the past,” said Drake. “Two of the girls work for me. It’s basically close friends and family.”
Fuoco, who is also the Lower B representative for the Kingston Rec Softball League, said teams can play their way into higher divisions, but it’s not necessarily the ultimate goal.
“I could decline, for sure,” Fuoco said. “There was one year there was talk of us moving up, partly to make numbers. Last year we finished pretty high up in the standings as well. And in my opinion we’re not ready to move up.”
Each of the three women’s divisions has a cluster of teams near the top, along with one team that hasn’t won a single game. In A, that team is Perferizone Painting II, with an 0-11 record as of press time. In Upper B, AFCO is 0-10. And in the Lower B division, it’s Safe Shoot LLC with an 0-9 record. Safe Shoot has been in a few games here and there, though a pair of losses to Sawyer Motors this season symbolize their overall struggles, with 9-3 and 18-13 results.
The most lopsided result of the season came in a game between Ulster Savings and Safe Shoot on Monday, July 9, a 41-5 result that saw numerous players on the winning side rack up multi-hit games. Fuoco (triple, four singles, three RBI), Jess Sass (two homers, three singles, eight RBI), Erin Murphy (home run, three singles, six RBI), Taylor Carpino (double, four RBI), Alex LoBianco (two doubles, single, three RBI) and Erin McDermott (three singles) all contributed.
The Lower B division’s final regular season games are scheduled for July 30 and August 6, Monday evenings at Block Park Field. The postseason gets underway on Monday, Aug. 13, with the finals slated for Monday, Aug. 27.