Swarthmore softball clinched their first Centennial Conference Tournament playoff berth since 2010 in a double-header against Dickinson last Saturday. Softball ended their regular season with a 21-13 overall record and a 9-7 conference record, securing themselves a spot in playoffs which began Tuesday, April 30. After an initial 7-2 loss to No. 1-seed Haverford on Tuesday, the team will have another opportunity to compete against No. 3-seed Ursinus this Friday, May 3 at Haverford.
The softball team has been working diligently both on and off the field in order to prepare for their playoff tournament at Haverford. Right now, their main focus is to improve their mental strength so that they are ready to work together as a team to perform their best in playoffs.
Senior Elizabeth Curcio ’19 recognizes the importance of mental toughness in preparation for playoffs.
“For us it’s really mental,” she said. “We have everything that we need there ability wise, but sometimes mental for us is our problem, so I think it’s realizing how to mentally prepare and going into tomorrow as strong as possible.”
Curcio thinks a strong sense of comradery is vital to the team’s potential playoff success.
“Going in knowing that you support everyone and that everyone supports you is just so important at this point.”
Pitcher Maddie Bowe ’21 also believes that maintaining positive energy and fostering comradery is a common goal that the team can work on going into their first game.
“I think heading into playoffs, we really just want to focus on working together, keeping our energy up throughout the entire game and just make sure we back each other up,” she said. “This year we have been really good at working together and staying really strong as a team.”
This strong sense of team spirit inspires Bowe to focus on her personal performance.
“For me, I really want to make sure that I’m staying strong out there for my team and putting in good pitches so that the hitters hit playable balls so that my team has a chance to make plays,” she said. “So staying mentally tough while I’m in the field is a big goal for me.”
Bowe is an intimidating force on the field, ranking fifth in the conference with an earned run average of 2.01.
After falling one win short from qualifying for playoffs last year, Bowe and her teammates have been diligently working since preseason to qualify for playoffs this year.
“Last year we were one game away from playoffs, so this year all preseason we were like we are making playoffs. And it wasn’t just kind of like a ‘we want to,’ we were like ‘we are doing this.’”
Curcio is also excited to have qualified for playoffs this year. This is a unique experience for her as a senior on the team, and she is aware of how meaningful this opportunity is not only for her but for all of her teammates.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been to playoffs in my four years, and the first time we’ve been as a team for a really long time, so we’re just trying to make the best out of it,” Curcio said.
Curcio is a valuable outfielder on the team. Her fielding percentage is .931, and she has been working on her range in the outfield in preparation for playoffs.
“We’re taking as many different reps as possible, testing out our range, just making sure we can play together, [and] read the ball right.”
Alongside working on improving their personal skills for playoffs, the softball team spends time strategizing with their Coach Melissa Finley.
Bowe is grateful for Coach Finley’s thorough planning before each game.
“Our coach, before all the conference games, does a lot of scouting,” she said. “She does a lot of preparation going in, which we all really appreciate.”
Curcio is also appreciative of Coach Finley’s positive attitude and constant support leading up to playoffs.
“She’s always pumping us up,” she said. “It’s all mentally being really confident with us and just knowing that she’s there for us.”
The softball team has also spent time in the gym lifting in preparation for qualifying for playoffs. The team works with strength and conditioning coach Michelle Pifer to improve their power and agility throughout the week in addition to on-field practices.
“Normally we do once a week lift and once a week agilities with Michelle,” Curcio said. “Michelle’s a really big part of it.”
Bowe also attributes much of the team’s success to workouts with Michelle.
“She’s been amazing and definitely has whipped us into the shape that we are so that we’re able to play those two games strongly and go into playoffs in the shape that we are.”
The softball team is excited to qualify for playoffs this week. As the first team to be eligible for playoffs since 2010, everyone is thrilled to have the opportunity to compete and determined to give it their all.
“Whenever we talk about playoffs we’re like “let’s go,” “come on!’” Bowe said. “We’re the first team to make it since our assistant coach graduated in 2010. So we’re really excited to show up there.”
Playoffs also provide a unique opportunity for seniors such as Curcio. With three seniors remaining on the team, this is their last chance to compete alongside the rest of their Garnet teammates. Curcio hopes to provide support for her teammates as well as to appreciate the last few moments of her college softball career.
“My personal goal is to be a team player and be as supportive as possible to everyone,” she said. “I want to go up to every at bat and just know it could be my last run or it could be my last play in the field and remember why I play this sport.”
Swarthmore is the No. 4-seed in the playoffs and will play No. 3-seed Ursinus Friday, May 3 at Haverford.