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Ace Lincoln hurler overcomes ‘regrets’

Katharine Fuentes has her fair share of regrets. The Lincoln senior wished she played more travel softball – she played just a few games with the Brooklyn Cyclones last summer. But more than anything else, she wants to soak up some more knowledge from new Railsplitters coaches Kim Procida and Nicole Adisano.

“I wish I was a freshman coming in,” Fuentes said. “They came in and I’m leaving. And I’m missing out. They’re amazing. I love them.”

The right−handed pitcher, who also excels with the bat, will attend Dowling College on Long Island next year. She’s hoping to get her grades up and walk on to the softball team there as a sophomore.

Before that, though, she will be plying her trade at the PSAL Exceptional Seniors Game on Thursday at Long Island University. Fuentes will be the starting pitcher for the Staten Island⁄Brooklyn⁄Manhattan team when it faces the Queens⁄Bronx team.

“It’s too bad we got her at the end,” said Procida, who took over for former head coach Carlos Gonzalez midway through the season. “She has so much potential.”

Fuentes went 7−8 with a 2.63 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 80 innings this season. At the plate, she batted .462 with a .588 on−base percentage and an .821 slugging percentage. Lincoln went 9−8, but had two big wins late: against Port Richmond and a playoff victory against Riverdale⁄Kingsbridge. Against PR, one of Staten Island’s best teams, Fuentes tossed a no−hitter and struck out eight.

Last season, Fuentes, who started her career at Grand Street Campus, hit .565 with a .677 on−base percentage and a 1.022 slugging percentage to lead Lincoln to a 15−2 record and a share of the PSAL Brooklyn A division title with James Madison.

“I know good softball players when I see them,” said Procida, who played at Bishop Kearney and St. Francis College. … “She’s a smart player.”

The coach said one thing she struggles with is confidence and Fuentes admitted that, too.

“Sometimes I feel like the world is on my shoulders and I’m letting the whole team down,” Fuentes said.

As the year went on, though, that got better. Susan Wagner coach Marco Altieri said he was impressed how much more effective she was late in the season. His team beat Lincoln twice, but it was a much tighter game in the second round of the playoffs. Wagner was up just 5−3 after five innings.

“She’s come a long way since her days at Grand Street Campus,” said Altieri, who coached Fuentes at the Big Apple Games two years ago and will coach her again during the Exceptional Seniors Game. “She has improved a great deal, even over the last three months. … I think that the new coaches have made her more into a pitcher – a more consistent pitcher, instead of a thrower. When we played them the second time, the score wasn’t indicative of how she threw.”

Fuentes is following in her brother Henry’s footsteps in going to Dowling. The former Lincoln star received a scholarship to play baseball there and is now playing independent professional baseball in Texas.

“It’s kind of in my family,” Fuentes said. … “He taught me everything I know.”

But before she heads out to Long Island, Fuentes wants to improve even more. That’s why she’ll be at the Exceptional Seniors Game and at the Big Apple Games, with Procida and Adisano, this summer.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I can’t wait.”

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