First baseman Saco traces softball roots to pool

first_img Published on April 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm Comments Swimming. That’s probably what sophomore Kelly Saco would be doing if she were not playing first base for the Syracuse softball team.‘Hands down,’ Saco said. ‘I learned how to swim before I learned how to walk.’ Kelly’s mother, Dacyl, swam for Syracuse and later went on to compete in approximately a half-dozen events as a 17-year-old in the 1976 Olympics for Venezuela. ‘You have to have the heart and the desire to be a swimmer. Otherwise, it’s not for you,’ Dacyl said. ‘You have to love the sport.’But growing up in the softball talent-rich suburbs of Miami, the younger Saco grew to love softball. The basepaths appealed more to her than the starting blocks. And now as a first baseman at SU, Saco is a part of a talented sophomore class that is leading the Orange in the 2010 season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThus far this season, Saco has started at first base in all 35 games for the Orange (19-16, 5-3 Big East). Saco and her Syracuse squad will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., Thursday afternoon to play Cornell in a doubleheader.The sophomore is coming off a season in 2009 where she hit .263 (26-for-99) and ranked fourth on the team with five home runs as primarily the team’s designated hitter. This season, Saco has been one-half of the right side of SU’s infield, which also returns fellow sophomore Stephanie Watts to second base.  But Saco can still trace her competitive nature to her grassroots in the pool. She started competitive swimming before the age of 10 and spent most middle school mornings and afternoons training. With high school on the horizon, Saco started to delve into both swimming and softball heavily. She began to tackle the modern-day challenge that is the two-sport athlete.  Kelly’s mother can attest to the long hours.‘A lot of her friends quit,’ Dacyl said. ‘Everybody wants to go to parties, to have fun, and to not worry about practice or where they will be that weekend.’In high school, as both a pitcher and first baseman, the younger Saco helped lead her Miami Palmetto team to a 2008 state championship. The endurance she garnered from hours in the pool translated to the mound. She was able to pitch additional innings. When the opposing pitcher was tired, Saco had something extra.‘If you are truly a swimmer, you can play any other sport,’ Saco said. ‘It is very competitive and it can help you from head to toe.’A lot of athletes turn to swimming to increase recovery time and to build strength. The minimum break for a swimmer might be just a single week out of the year. With a younger brother currently on a swimming scholarship at LSU, the Saco family is well adept to the physical advantages of the sport.Kelly’s goal as a child was to follow her mother’s path and make it to the Olympics. But when the IOC dropped softball from the 2012 Games, her plans shifted slightly. She then moved her focus to playing for a competitive softball team in college, and hasn’t looked back since.Saco will continue to fill the niche head coach Leigh Ross has slotted for her. No matter if it was in the pool or on first base, where she learned what it is to be an athlete. ‘She knew it, she understood it,’ Dacyl admits, ‘and she said, ‘OK, this is what I want. I want to play in college, and I want to be good at it.”[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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