In what has been a wild start to the spring season, the softball team seems to have found their stride.
The start to this year has been defined by the wintry conditions. With temperatures hovering in the 30s and 40s, and a snowfall as recently as Tuesday, many spring teams have been stuck inside for the majority of their season.
Unfortunately, softball was one of those teams. February, and even parts of March, have consisted of practices in the field house and a constant longing to be outside. To add to the frustration, the team has already been forced to cancel or postpone two of its scheduled doubleheaders.
Luckily, the team was able to get out of Pennsylvania for spring break, traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C. where they played 8 games. They went just 2-6, but played a Division II team and two NAIA teams. While these teams certainly provided the Garnet with stiff competition, the softball team has focused on their performance against teams within their own division.
In talking about the team’s trip, Rose Pitkin ’14 said, “Spring break was the first time we had really been able to play outside. It was the first time we faced real game situations and pitching (since we didn’t end up playing any games before spring break), but we did a lot of positive things during the break that unfortunately are not reflected in our record.”
Even while coming out of spring break with a record the team wasn’t satisfied with, the team managed to stay upbeat and focus on the positives, emphasizing the idea of “staying the course.”
Pitkin went on to say, “I think one of the best things we did over spring break was communicate really well both on and off the field. We were able to talk about plays and think through situations and opposing pitchers in a way that was positive and really helpful. If we can continue to communicate like this, which we have been doing so far, it will help us more than anything when we get in a jam or if those situations come up again.”
With focus on these aspects, the softball team returned home and swept Gwynedd Mercy University. The offense exploded in the first game, scoring eight runs through five innings. The offensive highlight of this game came from Sarina Lowe ’14, who belted her first career home-run with a three-run shot to right field in the fourth. Lowe also picked up her first win of the season, pitching the full five and allowing only three hits on the day.
In the second game of the doubleheader the Garnet managed to pick up a 5-1 victory. Clara Obstfeld ’16 was 3-3 in the game with a pair of RBIs, supporting the one-run pitching effort of Melissa O’Connor ’15.
These games demonstrated how positive spring break was for the team. The outside repetitions and game situations helped the team make the necessary adjustments they needed to succeed. Those eight games certainly helped the Garnet find their stride.
With two wins right out of the gate after spring break, the women looked to continue their success against Rutgers-Newark. Against a tough opponent they were able to earn a split to push their post-break record to 3-1.
After a tough 6-5 loss, the team rallied to put up 13 runs in the second game. O’Connor earned another win with an eight-hit complete game effort. Jackie Pezzato ’17 led the offensive onslaught with a 5-5 game, driving in three and scoring two.
Talking about spring break and the team’s recent success O’Connor said, “We were able to see over spring break what we needed to work on before entering conference play. It was a good benchmark for us and the coaches to see the direction to take for this past week of practice. This past week has been great for being back on the dirt and getting to playing softball without being confined to the small space in the field house.”
The Garnet look to maintain their momentum and success as they head into conference play against Muhlenberg today. The team has continued to practice hard and work on areas of their game in which the team members feel they need improvement. Even with limited time outside, the softball team feels they have prepared well and will not try and change much as they head into conference.
Pitkin echoed these sentiments, saying, “For us, our mentality and approach has to stay the same for every game, focused and engaged. Our sense of urgency on the field and up to bat does not and cannot change depending on whether or not we are playing a conference opponent or not. Of course conference games naturally have a higher level of intensity to them, but again, we have to remember to stay the course and play our game.”