CALDWELL, N.J.- Caldwell University softball alumna Sydney Ponto ’17 (West Deptford, N.J.) was selected as the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ) Division II Female Student-Athlete of the Year. The Caldwell University Athletics Department earned the DII Cup for their outstanding athletic accomplishments during the 2016-17 year.
“Caldwell athletics had an exceptionally successful year during 2016-17, and we are honored to be receiving the CAANJ DII Cup in recognition of our teams, their coaches and our athletes,” said Caldwell President Dr. Nancy Blattner. “
Caldwell Athletics as a department turned in one of its best years on the field. The fall season featured three playoff teams, highlighted by women’s soccer winning their second CACC Championship in four years. The women’s volleyball team reached the CACC championship final, while men’s soccer advanced to the CACC semifinals. During the winter season, the men’s and women’s basketball teams both reached the semifinals with the women’s team advancing to the championship final. The women’s bowling team, in only their third season, qualified for the Northeast Conference Championships for the second straight season. Bowling advanced to the NEC Championship Final Four for the first time in program history. The success continued into the spring as the softball team tied the single-season program record with 45 wins and won their seventh CACC Championship. Women’s lacrosse reached the post season for a second straight season in its fourth year as a program at Caldwell. The men’s and women’s track and field team both took third place at the CACC Championship meet in May.
“Caldwell athletics plays an integral role in the success of Caldwell University, and to win the CAANJ DII Cup certainly validates our commitment to our athletes and coaches,” said Caldwell Senior Vice President Joe Posillico.
Caldwell earned six major award honors led by women’s basketball’s Kristen Drogsler (Middle Village, N.Y.) and softball’s Marisa Monasseri (Monroe, N.J). Volleyball’s Jessica Mitchell (Plainfield, Ill.) and women’s lacrosse’s Rachel Lucia (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) earned CACC Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Ponto was the CACC Pitcher of the Year. Alexandra Greaves (Huntington, N.Y.) from the women’s cross country team was selected as the CACC Rookie of the Year.
As a department, Caldwell earned 44 CACC All-Academic honorees as well as 19 CACC All-Conference selections. The department also earned seven CoSIDA Academic All-District winners as well as three CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
“I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Ponto. “Thanks to my coaches, the athletic staff, professors, administration, friends, family, and of course my teammates for everything, I could not have done anything without them. My four years at Caldwell were unforgettable and irreplaceable, and I am happy to call it a home.”
Ponto finished her career on the softball field last spring as one of the most decorated players in school history. She was named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year and was a CACC First Team All-Conference selection. Ponto added Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) East Region Pitcher of the Year honors to her resume along with Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference D2 Pitcher of the Year honors. She earned D2CCA Third Team All-American honors from the and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). She excelled in the classroom as she was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-American Third Team. Ponto named to the D2CCA and NFCA East Region First Team and was an ECAC First Team All-Star. She set the program single season record with 30 wins in the circle in 2017. Ponto led the conference in wins, strikeouts (269), complete games (23) and innings pitched (226.0). She went 4-0 in the CACC Championship Tournament, earning Tournament MVP honors. Ponto ended her career second all-time in school history with 75 wins in the pitching circle.
In response to Ponto’s award, Blattner added, “we are proud of all our student-athletes but particularly Sydney Ponto for the amazing career she had as a pitcher on our softball team. She is so deserving of the inaugural student-athlete of the year award in DII from CAANJ, which highlights her contributions on the field and her success as a Caldwell student-athlete.
Posillico said, “having Sydney recognized as the first ever CAANJ Division II Female Student- Athlete of the Year is an amazing honor and we are so proud of her and her accomplishments on and off the field,”
Ponto and the department will be honored at the CAANJ luncheon on Thursday, October 12 at 12:30 pm, at the Holiday Inn in Somerset, NJ.