First-year softball pitcher makes name for herself


No two sports have more superstitious athletes than baseball and softball. Being two of some of the most mentally challenging sports players can partake in, they are always looking for an edge to deal with “the game of failure.”
After pitching over 100 innings along with accumulating 85 at bats, as well as earning time in the diamond at second base, Aleya Belardinelli, ’25, was Ms. Dependable as she guided the Gators throughout the season, maintaining peak performance thanks to multiple boxes of Reese’s Puffs cereal.
“It actually gets kind of bad because I’m always popping them in (my mouth) when I’m in the dugout,” Belardinelli said with a laugh.
Through the 32 games played this season, the Florida native proved more than serviceable as she made tremendous strides through her first-year campaign. The ceiling is high as her overpowering fastball racked up 85 strikeouts and led her to elite play on the mound with a 3.86 Earned Run Average.
Belardinelli settled right in, feeling comfortable in all aspects of the game and making the switch from high school to collegiate ball look easy.
“Florida has very competitive travel ball organizations,” Belardinelli said. “I was very used to that style or rigor of playing, and I think it really helped me prepare for college.”
The transition can be difficult for many young first-years, as they dawn upon a new chapter of their lives. Batting averages can fall, mechanics can fall out of whack and the mental game can discombobulate newcomers from all over the country, but at Allegheny College it is a different narrative as Belardinelli delivered for the team on countless occasions.
As a team, the season provided numerous obstacles that the Gators struggled to overcome. They started off the year dropping the first four contests, after opening day was postponed due to weather. After stringing together a couple of dominant wins over Keuka and Gustavus Adolphus, they followed up by dropping five out of the next six to kick off the year with a 3-9 record. Their best stretch of play followed their mediocre start as they rattled off three wins in four games, including a tie. The season was full of ups and downs, and the team capped off their last 10 games finishing 3-7.
Another promising piece to the Gators roster is Sofia Genareo, ’25. Genareo led the team in RBI’s this season as she was consistently hitting up in the lineup producing a .347 batting average and knocking in 22 teammates. Pairing her with Belardinelli, as well as other high impact players including Cameron Long, ’23, and Hadley Horensky, ’23, the future core is set in place for the team to build success.
With 11 first-years on the roster, the group was young and had no experience at this kind of level. However, they gelled together well, and although their 11-20-1 record was not the outcome they were looking for, the future is bright as the team built chemistry and has young leaders to hopefully usher in a new era of Gator softball.
This would not be the case if it were not for the senior class. Despite only having three on the roster, each of them stepped up in a big manner taking responsibility for their role. The team would have events to bond and let everyone mingle together — one of the more popular ideas brought to the table was game and movie night.
“It really helps us as a team gel together,” Belardinelli said. “It was super important this year having as many freshmen as we did.”
As a thank you to the seniors, the team repaid the favor. This past weekend was also senior night, as locker room festivities took place before the game allowing the team to bond one last time in their blue and gold uniforms. Balloons were set up by the underclassmen, only to be ripped apart by the whole team — in good spirits — after everyone got together. The team shared a moment of laughter and a heartfelt experience before taking the field one last time in 2022.
“I think we finished our season well,” Belardinelli said. “I’m hopeful for the future of this team.”