Softball welcomes new head coach

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By JOHN LICHINA
Staff Writer
[email protected]

Not often will a team that finished the season as conference champions find themselves looking for a new head coach. In the case of Allegheny softball, they needed only to look north to find a suitable replacement.

Making the short trip down from Erie, Pa., Beth Curtiss brings a resume of habitual success to the Allegheny athletic community.

A native of Pittsburgh, she was introduced to the diamond playing baseball with the boys. Entering high school, she began softball.

Curtiss played first and third base at Keystone Oaks High School and performed at the Junior Olympic level at that time as well. Through the rest of her playing career she would be a mainstay at these positions. On offense, she admits that her talent at the plate outweighed her speed on the base paths.

University of Gannon in Erie would be the next stop in Curtiss’ career where she helped the Golden Knights to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. After graduating summa cum laude, she took her first coaching job through the Junior Olympic program in Pittsburgh.

Four years went by before she returned to her alma matter as an assistant coach. One year later, she was appointed head coach. Her eight-year tenure produced the highest winning percentage for a softball coach at Gannon.

In 2008, family matters pulled Curtiss away from the game. A son and daughter that she took priority over a coaching career.

While her husband remains the head football coach at Gannon, Curtiss heard of an opportunity to coach at Allegheny and could not pass it up.

“I knew I would have a chance to work with athletes that have great character, that are motivated and driven which is appealing,” said Curtiss. “Also the tradition of Gator softball; they’ve had a lot of success here and I want to continue on and even go places maybe they haven’t been before.”

Keep in mind that Gator softball returns eight of its starters from last year’s NCAC leading squad, including NCAC Player of the Year Stephanie Fort, ’12 and Pitcher of the Year Caitlin Nealer, ’15.

Returning the best players in the conference, Allegheny softball has a great chance to build on its success of last spring.

Curtiss has an excellent resume coming to Allegheny but, organizing a collegiate softball program is a tough job for just one person.

Assistant coach Suzie Denillo, who Curtiss coached at the Junior Olympic level, signed to her new position only a few weeks ago.

Allegheny is Denillo’s first coaching job at the collegiate stage. A mutual friend brought her and Curtiss together and both are excited to be working with one another.

“I feel like we clicked very well so far,” said Denillo of her relationship with Curtiss.
Both Curtiss and Denillo are looking forward to leading the Gators to another winning season come spring, and are hoping to defend their NCAC title.

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