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Athlete of the Week: Sophia Pappas

CONKLIN, N.Y. - Susquehanna Valley softball pitcher Sophia Pappas has had one incredible season.

She's struck out nearly 300 batters this year, she's driven in more than double the amount of runs she's allowed, and she has her team on the cusp of doing something that hasn't happened in over a decade.

"A lot of people ask me what goes through my mind, but most of the time, it's really nothing. It's kind of just staying focused and not over-thinking anything," says Pappas.

Sometimes in life, the simplest way is the best way.

For Susquehanna Valley senior Sophia Pappas, that's her mindset with every pitch.

By not over-thinking things, Pappas has helped lead the Sabers to the state semifinals, in this her final year at SV.

And there's only one way she wants it to end, with a state title.

"It would mean everything. It would just put the cherry on top for my senior year. It would just cap off the season."

Susquehanna Valley hasn't won a championship in softball since 2007.

Pappas has the program is prime position behind 280 strikeouts and only surrendering 11 earned runs all season.

Sophia's coach at SV, Karen Bidwell, believes that her ace brings something to the field that is infectious to the rest of the team.

"I think it's her intensity and her drive. Softball is her sport, so, she's kind of a 24/7, 12 months-a-year, softball girl. Her intensity is phenomenal, her work ethic is phenomenal. And I think she brings that intensity, and then other kids want to meet her expectations, I guess. They look up to her, and they strive to be more like her. I think that helps bring the intensity to the whole program," Bidwell said.

That intensity and work ethic are some of the many intangibles that Sophia brings to the table, and that she'll bring with her in the fall to Binghamton University.

Sophia committed to play softball at BU, and she says that head coach Michelle Johnston and the academics played a big role in her decision to become a Bearcat.

However, the biggest factor was being close to home.

"I'm definitely excited to stay in the area, knowing that my parents and my family is all going to be around to support me. A lot of my friends are going to stay in town too. So, it's more of a support, and having people there for me. And, hopefully, I can do what I've done here, there too."

I asked Sophia if she had thought about what it would be like to compete for an America East title next year.

She was more concerned getting through her first outing.

"It would be awesome. But, I think getting through that first game, and getting through my nerves would be the biggest step."

But for now, she's just trying to soak in her remaining days as a high school student before graduation.

"I'm just excited. I'm ready for all the senior festivities. And I'm just ready to enjoy the rest of the time I have here."

Sophia is just nine strikeouts away from 1,000 in her high school career.

She'll look to eclipse that mark on Saturday against Westlake in the state semis.

That's at Moreau Rec Park in Fort Edward at 9:00 am.

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