By Mike Zummo
When making her college decision, it was important to Jackie Rometo that she remain close to home, so that friends and family can see her play softball.
That part of the mission has been accomplished as Rometo, a Valley Central senior, has officially committed to playing softball about 20 miles north on Route 208 at SUNY New Paltz beginning in the spring 2022 season.
“I wanted to play softball in college,” said Rometo. “That was most important to me. I also wanted my friends and family to be able to come to my games because it’s so close.”
It will also keep her close to her older brother, Corey, who graduated in June. Corey suffered from Addison’s Disease, a genetic condition caused by a mutation in his X chromosome.
“I wanted to be close to him because the time with him is so important to me,” Rometo said.
She will join a Hawks team that only got four games in before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They picked up their only win in their final game, a 6-1 win over Rutgers-Camden.
The pandemic, which also canceled the high school spring season, as it caused her junior season to be canceled, is key for a spring athlete aspiring to play at the next level.
“I feel like the pandemic made it harder and more stressful to get recruited because I couldn’t see any of them,” Rometo said. “I think having a travel season in the summer was the reason I did get recruiting. Without that, I don’t know what I would have done.”
She met New Paltz coach Krysti Maronski, who led the Hawks to their winningest season in 2019, at a clinic over the summer. She got along well with Maronski and she also knows a player on the team, who would always tell her how the New Paltz team felt like a family.
That’s something like her experience at Valley Central.
“Coach Katie (Farrugia) does a lot inside and outside of team practices to get our team to be so close,” Rometo said. “I also play travel with a few of the girls from VC and we’ve become such good friends over the years. They’re the closest thing I have to sisters. We’re all so close and it shows on the field.”
She went for a tour of the New Paltz campus and met some of the girls on the team and she said their personalities matched.
“I feel like the more outgoing aspect of my personality fit well,” Rometo said. “They’re serious about softball, but they have a lot of fun. That’s exactly what I want in college.”
The Hawks are getting a center fielder who has been on the varsity since she was in eighth grade. She’s been a captain since her sophomore year.
Her last varsity season was a sophomore, where she had the team’s highest batting average and most stolen bases. Farrugia said she’s not afraid to lay out to make sure she catches the ball and is fast enough to cover ground in center field.
She’s also played some middle infield during travel ball, but she’s at her best in center field.
“She’s that dynamic overall player,” Farrugia said. “She will step up in the big situation.”
She brings experience and leadership as a longtime captain, but she remembers what it was like as an eighth grader to have to fight for her starting spot.
“I think she would help New Paltz in such a great way,” Farrugia said. “She’s such a dynamic player and willing to be a team player. She needs to keep doing what she did with me for the last four years.”
Three seasons, as last season was canceled. Softball is considered a moderate-risk sport and is expected to begin on April `19 in what will likely be a shortened season.
“I’m just looking forward to being back on our home field the most and having fun with it because I am already committed,” Rometo said. “I’m not going to stress over anything to much and have fun the whole season.”