Yorktown senior Stephanie Ragusa is an outfielder on the varsity softball team.
How old were you when you first playing softball and how did you get started?
I started playing softball for the YAC program in Yorktown when I was in first grade, so I was about six years old. When I was younger I wanted to try so many different sports and softball is just the one that I always enjoyed and loved doing more than any other one.
What do you think are your strengths as a softball player?
My speed is definitely my greatest strength when it comes to softball. I love to get on base and take any opportunity I can to steal the next one. Being a lefty hitter has advantages as well. As a lefty I have the ability to bunt, slap or hit, so I try to think one step ahead of the fielders and do the opposite of what they are thinking.
Yorktown softball made a run to the Section 1 Class A semifinals as a No. 11 seed last year. What was that experience like and what did you learn from it?
Being one of the four teams left last year was absolutely incredible. We knew what we were capable of doing. As we progressed through the playoffs we surprised so many people, especially when we beat John Jay-Cross River, which is always a great team. We had lost to them twice during the regular season, so going into that game we really had to be both mentally and physically prepared. As we continued in the playoffs we kept gaining more confidence and learned the true meaning of “any team can win on any given day.”
As a senior captain on the team this year, how do you see your role as a leader?
Our team has a significant amount of underclassmen on it, so being a role model for them each and every day is something I really strive to do. I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore I always looked up to all the upperclassmen on the team and I couldn’t wait to set the example they did for me. As a leader, I just want to make sure everyone is focused, doing their best and having fun because this team is talented and capable of going far.
What is your favorite team activity, pre-game or post-game ritual that you share with your teammates?
A team activity that was started last year by our coach Ryan Iamurri is something called an affirmation bag. An affirmation bag is a paper bag that you decorate with your name and anything else you want. Everyone on the team has to write a little note for each person on the team about something they admire about their performance and/or attitude throughout the week and you drop it into their bag. On the way to a game we all sit in our seats and read the positive things our teammates are noticing about ourselves. The lesson behind this is to never let a compliment go unnoticed or unaddressed.
Who has been your biggest role model over the years and what have you learned from them?
My mom and dad have definitely been the two people in my life that have always set such a great example for my siblings and me. They are the ones that put everything I love and want to do ahead of their own and I could not thank them enough. They taught me how to deal with disappointments on and off the field. They push me towards any dream of mine because they see how much I push myself. Their support is what gets me through everything and what will continue to get me through anything.
Tell us one thing about yourself that not a lot of people know?
I can’t do my homework unless my room is clean.
Do you plan on continuing softball in college? If yes, where are you going and why did you decide on that college?
Yes, I plan on attending Binghamton University next year. I chose Binghamton because it provides so many different opportunities. The coach is also a big reason, her intensity and team ethics are great. Being able to go to such a well known school for its academics as well as athletics is a great opportunity I am determined to excel from.
Do you know what you want to study in college? If yes, what and why?
I will start out studying math and applied physics, hoping to eventually end up in the engineering field. Math and science are two subjects that always interested me more than any other subjects throughout high school. I hope that my interest and love for both will continue to grow as I pursue them in college.
What is your favorite music to listen to warming up for a game?
My favorite music to listen to warming up for a game is definitely country music. It just relaxes me.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Being able to read peoples’ minds. I just think it would be interesting to know what people say in their heads, but don’t say out loud.
If you could pick one place to visit on vacation that you’ve never been to, where would you go and why?
I really want to go to Australia because you are a day ahead of everybody else.
What is your favorite food to eat before or after a game?
Pizza is a must after a game.
Best place to eat in Yorktown and why?
The Yorktown Diner is definitely the best place to eat. It opens early and closes late, so it is an ideal place to go with a bunch of people anytime of the day to get whatever you want.
What advice would you give to a young softball player growing up in Yorktown?
Softball is a sport that you need to work hard and practice at. It is a sport that you will fail more than you succeed, but in the end the relationships, the teammates you count on and the lessons you learn is what it is all about.