Sydney Canessa plays softball a certain way and she isn’t about to apologize to anyone for it.
The Wall junior infielder plays hard and she does so all the time. In playing hard all the time, she is always looking to make that one extra play that can be the difference between winning and losing. In playing hard all the time, she is always looking for an edge against her opponent.
Those attributes that she brings to the Crimson Knights’ lineup have served her well to this point and after the season she just had, no one is in any position to disagree.
“I think it was a great season for our team and we were able to prove a lot of people wrong,” Caness said of the 23-5 campaign which culminated in the program’s first Shore Conference Tournament title since 1990 “We knew the kind of potential we had and for me, I just did whatever I could. I knew my role was going to change this season by batting second in the order, but fortunately, we had more people in bottom of lineup coming through and getting on base. I just still played the same game, always looking for the extra play.”
The numbers Canessa put up alone are likely enough to justify any accolade she receives this spring after she hit .543 with 14 doubles and 21 RBI. However, it’s the aforementioned extra plays and constant search for an edge that truly make her special. That SCT final win, an 8-7 decision over Shore Conference and state power St. John Vianney, is the prime example.
With the game tied 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning and Canessa on third with one out and the bases loaded, Jess Goldman popped out to Cailin Winokur, who had taken a step onto the outfield grass,
Winokur makes the catch, Canessa takes off for home and slides as the ball gets to Lancers catcher Kristen Solari. What looked like an out turned into the eventual game-winning run as Canessa lifted her hand during the slide to avoid the tag before tapping the plate to score.
The play sounds simple enough, but to hear Canessa describe it reveals so much more, not only about the play, but the type of player she is.
“They were coming up with the heat of their lineup (in the top of the seventh), so something had to happen. It was just a shallow pop-up, but the second baseman (Winokur) was at an awkward angle and leaning towards the right field line, so she would have to turn and find her balance before throwing home,” Canessa said. “I tagged up and I know my speed, so I just wnet for it. They had to make it perfect, but the catcher (Solari) catcher was leaning more towards first. It was an incredible feeling because I knew we were three outs away from winning the SCT.”
The history of one of the Shore Conference’s more prestigious public school programs is not lost on Canessa, a career .487 hitter (148-for-304). A big part of the standard at Wall is the 2007 team, which won the NJSIAA Group III title and Canessa wants nothing more to repeat that feat as a senior. Furthermore, she seems to have an understanding that it will be on her shoulders to do so.
“That’s always been my goal, to win a state title. I love my high school and this softball program,” Canessa said. “As hard as it is to accomplish a goal that big, as long as we all come together, anything can happen. I’m glad I had this team though and everyone wanted to do something special as much as I did.”