A young but experienced softball team will start the spring season with 12 games in Florida over spring break before beginning G-MAC play on March 24.
“We’re still young, because we’re mostly sophomores and freshmen, but we’re still fairly experienced because a lot of the sophomores got playing time last year,” head coach Joe Abraham said. “Even though we’re young, inexperience is not an issue for our team. We fully expect to go out and have a great season.”
The team gained nine freshmen this season, while only three seniors graduated at the end of last season, including Bekah Kastning ’17, the only player in school history to earn NCAA Division II all-region accolades twice in her career.
The Chargers’ pitching staff and six additional starters will return from last year, including senior third baseman Kelsey Gockman, junior outfielder Katie Kish, junior second baseman Amanda Marra, sophomore pitcher Dana Weidinger, sophomore shortstop Sam Catron, and sophomore catcher Sydney San Juan, who received all-conference accolades last season.
“We’re pretty close as a team to begin with because we have a lot of returning players,” Weidinger said. “I feel like the freshmen fit in so well with the rest of our team, and we have a couple new big bats on the team, which is awesome.”
The team finished last year 25 – 23 in the GLIAC, and will compete against some familiar opponents and new teams in the G-MAC. Abraham said mental focus will be especially important this season.
“We need to make sure that we’re not having mental letdowns on any particular days,” he said. “When you know you’re going to play a Grand Valley or a Wayne State or a Saginaw, you know you’re in for two very difficult games, so because the G-MAC is not as strong as the GLIAC, it could be easy for a team predicted near the top to have a mental letdown here or there. We have to guard against that by taking everyone seriously.”
Gockman said the Florida games over break will help the team prepare for the conference season.
“We definitely think we can be a very dominant team,” Gockman said.
Abraham said the team needs to get the season off to a strong start in Florida, especially since the team will likely have freshmen making significant contributions to the team at the pitching and catching positions.
“These games in Florida count, so we’re looking to win games,” Abraham said. “The working has been going on since last fall. These aren’t scrimmages or for easing our way into the season. This counts. You’re always looking to work on things, but we’re looking to win.”