The softball team may be near the end of the fall season, but the players and coaches are just beginning to get a sense for where the team stands, according to head coach Joe Abraham.
He said the eight games played have helped the team gain experience before the spring season — an important form of practice for a young team.
“We scheduled a lot of fall games this year because we have so many freshmen and a large roster,” Abraham said. “We coaches needed some extra games to help see what we have. It’s been good — the eight games we’ve played, plus the intrasquad games have helped us start to sort things out.”
The most recent games, a 16 – 6 win against Danville Area Community College and a 4 – 1 win against Muskingum University on Sunday showed the team’s strengths in on-field performance and team dynamics, according to senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman.
“That’s when I felt like we were starting to mesh together as a team,” Gockman said. “Even the game before that — that’s when our hitting really turned on.”
Saturday, the team split with a 4 – 1 loss to Otterbein College, but rallied for a 4 – 3 win over Danville in Columbus, Ohio.
“The first game wasn’t our best played game, but we came back and fought our second game on the OSU field and won,” junior second baseman Jessica Taylor said. “That was a cool experience. The stadium was beautiful and the atmosphere was something we don’t really get to experience here in Hillsdale.”
Over the weekend of Sept. 23 – 24, the team went 1 – 3, winning against Heidelberg College 3 – 1 and falling to Bowling Green State University twice and Otterbein College once. The size of the team has also allowed for several intrasquad scrimmages, which Gockman said has helped teammates get to know each other’s’ playing styles and improve team chemistry on the field.
Taylor said the most recent games bode well for the team’s remaining two fall games scheduled for noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 15 at Hillsdale against Jackson Community College and Oakland Community College.
“We played the best we have all fall, stringing hits together with some great defense behind our pitchers,” Taylor said. “These games should send us with the right amount of confidence into our home games.”
Abraham said this year’s team has a strong pitching staff and solid defense, but improved hitting will help the team prepare for conference play.
“What we need this year is for some of our returning players to get at least 10 percent better at the plate because three of our top hitters from last year will not be in the lineup,” Abraham said. “If our players can hit anywhere close to what they’re capable of, we’re going to be a really good team because we have the pitching and the defense.”