CANANDAIGUA — The Finger Lakes Community College softball team was on its way to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to start the season when their spring trip was cut short — abruptly — due to COVID-19.

The Lakers’ three sophomores — Rachel Graf, Morgan Hamer and Melanie Gleason — wrote letters to FLCC to reflect on their time with the Lakers.

Graf, an outfielder and pitcher, ended her only season with FLCC batting .278 with 20 hits and 14 runs batted in.

“I love this program so much,” Graf stated in her letter to FLCC. “When I was recruited, it was the best thing to ever happen to me as a high school senior. I was so proud to represent the Lakers, and be a part of this team. Through my two years here, my teammates have become some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and I’m so thankful for all of them.”

Graf also stated in her letter that she wanted to thank her coaching staff for everything they’ve done to push her career forward.

Graf, who hails from Walworth, had to step up for the team last season as a pitcher when the team was short a few arms.

Graf is not only a talented athlete, she is a well-rounded person. She won a contest for her wine label design.

Hamer, a first basemen, boasted a .946 fielding percentage while recording 190 putouts during her one campaign.

“My experience at FLCC has been truly wonderful,” Hamer wrote in her letter. “At first, I wasn’t going to play sports here, but then I signed up for a journey that I didn’t expect! I made so many friends and memories that I will never be able to forget. The coaches here are truly amazing, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”

Much like everyone else, Hamer was heartbroken her season was cut short, but also noted how thankful she was just to have an opportunity to make lifelong friends in one year at FLCC.

Hamer, a Belfast resident, was forced to step in after the incumbent starting first basemen left the team. Hamer learned the position in a short period of time and filled the starting role.

Shortstop Melanie Gleason, a Penn Yan graduate, played in every one of FLCC’s 36 during her freshman season.

“College is where you can really make friends that last a lifetime,” Gleason said in her letter. “Even though I never got the chance to wear my new #00 jersey on the field in my final year at FLCC, I know someone else will get the chance to in the future. I hope they play with heart every single game, because you never know when it could be your last game for (head coach) Jerry (Hoover), the girls, or FLCC.”

Gleason led the 2019 Lakers by scoring 24 runs and batting .347. She slugged two home runs — both coming in the same game, a feat she also accomplished in high school.

Apart from softball, one of Gleason’s hobbies is powerlifting. She can deadlift 315 pounds.

Gleason will continue her softball career at SUNY Fredonia in 2021.

No matter what the future brings, Graf, Hamer and Gleason have made friends they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

Finger Lakes Community College Sports Information Director Alyssa Presutti contributed to this story.

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