For longtime supporters of the Ithaca College baseball and softball programs, the home team dugouts at Bucky Freeman Field and Kostrinsky Field are going to look much different starting next season. This year marked the final seasons of head baseball coach George Valesente ’66 and head softball coach Deb Pallozzi, M.S. ’93, after 41 and 31 seasons on South Hill, respectively.
The two coaches' careers have much in common. Both won national championships at Ithaca, with Valesente leading the Bombers to victory in 1980 and 1988, and Pallozzi winning it all in 2002. Both were inducted into the college’s athletic hall of fame — Valesente in 1980 and Pallozzi in 2012. And both are members of their respective sport’s hall of fame as well; Valesente was elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005 and Pallozzi was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
During his 41 years at the helm of the Ithaca baseball program, Valesente compiled a record of 1,136-507-8, and his 1,196 total career victories rank seventh all-time in NCAA Division III. While at Ithaca, his program never had a losing season, won 20 or more games 38 times, and qualified for the NCAA tournament 35 times. They advanced to the College World Series 10 times during his career, most recently in 2013, when the team finished third.
As a three-sport athlete at Ithaca College, Valesente lettered in soccer, basketball and baseball, and played on NCAA playoff teams in all three sports.
“George Valesente is synonymous with Ithaca College excellence,” said Susan Bassett ’79, director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “He personifies Bomber values of professionalism, respect, integrity and sportsmanship.”
Pallozzi coached the Bombers for 31 seasons, posting a record of 886-412-1. Her 892 career wins rank ninth all-time in Division III history. Her teams advanced to the NCAA Regionals 25 times and qualified for the World Series 10 times, most recently in 2018. In 2006, the team won a program-record 40 games. A retirement celebration and softball reunion is set to be held during Alumni Weekend on Saturday, October 12.
Pallozzi is a 1979 graduate of the State University of New York College Cortland, where she was a pitcher and outfielder on the softball team for four years.
“She leads with class and professionalism, holding our students to a high standard while mentoring her coaching colleagues of all sports at IC," said Bassett. "Her results speak for themselves in a multiple hall of fame career.”