SANBORN — For his 51st birthday tomorrow, Bill Clingersmith will be presented with a challenge.

Resurrect Niagara County Community College’s softball program, like his nephew did for baseball.

Clingersmith, a long-time varsity assistant at Niagara Falls High School, and before that, LaSalle Senior High School, took over the Trailblazers about a month before the season at the urging of Athletic Director Lee Wallace.

NCCC opens the season at 2 p.m. today against Onondaga.

“It’s going to be a learning experience for me,” Clingersmith said. “The expectation is to improve every game.”

The Trailblazers have struggled not only to win games in recent years but to put forth a full schedule, with a fall slate and spring trips. That has hurt recruiting.

In years past, Clingersmith helped set up local players — including his daughter, Sarah — at Monroe Community College, a national powerhouse near Rochester.

“We’re trying to get to where Monroe is,” Clingersmith said. “I don’t see why we can’t compete with them year in and year out, with the local kids we have. Softball is big in our area, and we’ve got a lot of good players. If we keep them here, I think we should be all right.”

“Don’t be surprised if they make the same turnaround as we did,” Matt Clingersmith said.

The coach is still discovering what he has with the 14-player roster. He’s been impressed so far with Jessica Peterson (Niagara Falls), Brittany Dibble (Niagara-Wheatfield), Amanda Herman (North Tonawanda), Alyssa Florence (Lewiston-Porter) and Nicole Catalano (Kenmore West).

North Tonawanda’s Lindsay Pierce will be the first pitching option, but he’s intrigued by Beverly Nembhard out of Brooklyn.

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