Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A walk down the halls of Tonawanda High School leads to a staircase that goes down to an illuminated basement, where batting cages are full of players taking practice swings.
The sound of aluminum meeting core, cork and rubber material reverberate and carom off the cement walls.
A brief pause; the batters reload.
Another ball hits the net and falls gracefully to the floor into the pile of other softballs.
But amongst all the noise and drills, one player is focused and determined. Not on her swing or her own personal success, but on the pace of practice and the success of her teammates.
Senior Danielle Palladino is the driving force behind the the Warriors (3-11 ECIC IV) positive approach to the game of softball. And despite a disappointing 11-0 playoff loss against Alden on May 18 that ended the Warriors' season, Palladino managed Tonawanda's only hit.
When she is not out on the field filling in at various positions, she is talking up her teammates on the bench, always focused and engaged in what is going on.
Just last week, after a 18-6 win over Holland, excitement engulfed the Tonawanda softball team.
Amongst all the commotion of her team's win, Palladino was unaware that she had completed one of the game's toughest tasks — hitting for the cycle.
A teammate came up to her at the end of the game to inform her what she had accomplished.
"I looked at my mom and I was like 'I hit for the cycle,' Palladino said. "She said 'what does that mean?' I said 'it's a single, double, triple and home run.' I tweeted it, I was pumped."
Palladino's final stat line for the game was 4 for 5 with a home run and 7 RBIs. But her success on the field is always trumped by her love and respect for the game and those who play it.
During a game against JFK earlier in the season, Palladino paid respect to a player that hit a grand slam on the opposing team. As the player was rounding second base, Palladino, who was playing shortstop, extended her arm out to congratulate the player.
"The other team's coach had spoken to our coach and said 'that was really nice of your player to congratulate our player. Your team has great sportsmanship'," said Marc Palladino, Danielle's father.
Her positive persona trickles down to the rest of her team. She is always walking up and down the bench picking her teammates up, knowing that no matter what the score is, one bad attitude will trickle down affecting the rest of the players.
"She always brings something new to our game," said teammate Joanna McCarthy. "She's always out there and always worries about other people."
Next season, coach Kim Fox will have a void to fill as the Warriors graduate six seniors, one being Palladino. Although there are capable players that can take over to fill in, her presence will be missed.
"She has this laugh that is just so infectious and contagious," Fox said. "As soon as you hear it you just (light up)."
Palladino will head to Erie Community College to play volleyball with the thought of playing softball on her mind.Find reporter Joe Konze on Twitter @TheRealJoeKonze.