By Rachel West – Managing Editor
The Centre College softball team continues to push forward through their season, determined to turn an overall record of 5-8 around in time for the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Conference Tournament.
The team’s record comes on the back of what was destined to be a difficult, hard-fought season. After losing ten players from last season, the members of the team knew that regaining their footing was going to be a bit difficult. First-year players have stepped in to fill some of the gaps, but the entire team has had to step up to make things work.
“I think this season we’ve really been learning to how to face adversity together,” first-year utility player Brittany Sears said. Sears said that the team has been working hard to integrate herself and other first-year players into the mix, always a difficult prospect for a young team that lacks the leadership and experience that more upperclassmen would provide.
The team’s troubles manifested early in the season, with back-to-back losses against Case Western Reserve University and Emory University. All four games took place at the Emory Invitational, where the team started out their season.
The team’s confidence was slightly shaken after their first game, a devastating 18-2 loss to Case Western, and they were unable to rally for the rest of the tournament, losing their other games against Case Western and Emory 3-0, 7-5, and 8-0.
After taking time to regain their stride, the team was able to pick up a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Spalding University, despite being down in the final inning. First-year pitcher Jessika Young explained that the game was a real confidence builder for the team.
“We really came together as a team and got the win,” Young said.
That game was followed by a 4-2 loss to Manchester University. The team managed to bounce back, however, in time for their first conference games against Sewanee University. The Lady Colonels consistently drilled into Sewanee’s team, beating them by eight for each of the games in the four game sweep.
The victories against Sewanee were the purest examples of first-year players stepping up for the team. Young and another first-year pitcher Elysse Petrie struck out a large numbers of batters in their combined pitching time, which most players said contributed greatly to the wins.
The Colonels followed their first conference wins with their first conference losses against Hendrix College on March 15. Hendrix won in a three game sweep that had the Colonels losing heartbreak games 4-0, 5-4, and 11-9.
Though their record might look dire at the moment, most players think it doesn’t really reflect their level of play. Most of their losses were picked up in non-conference play, leaving the Lady Colonels at 4-3 in the SAA with conference games against rivals Birmingham-Southern University, Rhodes College, Millsaps College, and Berry College still to come.
In order to push their winning streak forward, the team thinks they’ll have to be more adventurous with their player depth. On a team with only thirteen players, the players are forced to become adept at different positions and test their endurance.
Sears, who as a utility player is able to play in almost every position, is positive about the experience of playing outside of her comfort zone. While she usually played left fielder or second base in high school, she is getting a lot of practice at different positions at Centre.
“I enjoy the challenge of playing different positions than I was used to in high school,” Sears said.
The Lady Colonels will play two important conference series over spring break. On March 22 and 23 they will play a four game series at Birmingham Southern and on March 29 and 30 the will host conference rival Rhodes. Both teams will provide a test for the Colonels.
They will need to maintain their endurance and quality of play in order to be prepared for the SAA Tournament, which is slated to start April 25 at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. The team believes, however, that they will be up for the challenge.