SPRINGFIELD — At long last, a winter that seemingly lasted forever is almost over. With the impending Spring Break in just over a week also comes the beginning of softball. The Springfield College softball team is coming off a season which saw it go 10-8 in New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play and 26-13 overall. The Pride are looking to take the momentum from last year’s strong season and bring it into 2019, despite the loss of several of their core players.
Springfield start their season in Florida with The Spring Games against mostly non-conference opponents. Last season, the Pride was especially strong against teams outside of the NEWMAC putting up a 16-5 record.
Head coach Kate Bowen is entering her second year at the helm for Springfield and understands that the games in Florida will be huge for her team in preparing themselves for a tough conference schedule.
“We are gonna have a really tough schedule in Florida this year as we always do,” explained Bowen, who has high expectations for the trip. “It’s gonna be a good test for us to see if were ready for the season.”
The Pride have reason to believe they will have continued success this season.
The strongest part of this team is the infield, particularly the experience in it. Despite losing their third and first baseman from the 2018 season, Bowen is confident that her infield will fill the voids and meet all expectations.
“I think right now our strongest area on the field is how much experience we have in the infield,” claimed an excited Bowen. “We have people who have kind of been in those roles before to make up for our losses.”
Losing five players from last year’s successful team will not be easy for the Pride to overcome. Especially the talent it lost on both sides of the ball in Talia Loda (1.30 ERA in 129.1 IP) and Kirsten Drobiak (.410/.453/.709 slash line). On that note, five freshman are welcomed to the mix for the 2019 campaign and all of them look to have an immediate impact. There is no one player that is expected to carry this year’s team, but the whole team has bought into a new mentality designed to maximize their output..
“Our concept this year is be the spark,” explained Bowen. “You need a spark to catch fire so everyday were trying to come to practice and were trying to be the spark in a bunch of different ways.”
So far, the team is all in on the idea of being the spark. It’s been described as a “new energy” by members of the coaching staff that they haven’t seen before out of a Springfield softball team. Bowen believes that this new energy can result in wins throughout the season.
“Each seasons different but I’m excited to see how motivated and driven we are everyday in practice,” she said.
The new energy is filled with potential and is something to look forward to for the 2019 season. Springfield’s toughest test this season will undoubtedly be MIT, and they will need all of the sparks they can get when they host last year’s eighth ranked team in the country in a doubleheader on April 13.
MIT finished conference play with an unheard of 17-1 record in conference play, showing how dominant they were by sweeping the Pride last season. After defeating Springfield in a doubleheader in the regular season, the Engineers won again, 1-0, in the NEWMAC tournament. In order to get better against their archrivals, Springfield will have to play better in every aspect of the game.
WPI will be a great test as well.. Another team that gave the Pride trouble by sweeping them last season, the Engineers finished their season last year 15-3 and in second place in the NEWMAC. The teams meet early in the season, as Springfield opens NEWMAC play with WPI on March 29 directly after the Florida trip.
Despite the clear tough competition, the Pride believe internally that they will be a challenge themselves all season and especially come tournament time. The entire team is buying into a mentality that they believe will result in wins. There is no one player that will carry this team and everyone is going to have to step up in order to achieve their goals.
Without a doubt, fans of Springfield College softball are in for a stellar season. Expectations are high for the team but do they believe they can contend for a NEWMAC championship?
“Absolutely. Definitely,” exclaimed Bowen. “I think that we are extremely driven and focused in practice and I think it’s gonna be an exciting season for people to watch.”