What goes into achieving a goal?
This is a question that has been going through the minds of individuals for as long as people have lived. Achieving a goal isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes focus, hard work and determination to what you want to achieve.
Enter the Springfield College softball team. At the beginning of the season, it was clear that the goal was for this team was to reach the NEWMAC tournament. Everybody knew it would be a difficult road to success, but every member of the team and coaching staff bought into it.
Now, at the end of April, Springfield sits at 22-14 with their spot in the NEWMAC tournament wrapped up. It has been a successful season for the Pride, but there is still more work to do.
“The team goals for the rest of the regular season is to do your job,” said head coach Kate Bowen, who has led her team successfully for the second straight year. “Whether your job is getting the sacrifice bunt down or getting the clutch hit late in the game, every job is important.”
Springfield had been impressive as of late, winning three of their last four games going into Tuesday’s games against Smith. The Pride hosted both Westfield State and Babson on Alden Street last week for double headers, sweeping the Owls and splitting with the Beavers.
The extra inning win over Babson was a big confidence boost for the Pride. The Beavers were one of the best teams last season and have been fantastic again this season going 19-11 overall and 12-4 in conference play.
A big part in the team’s success this year has been Alexyss Conley. The infielder came up big for the Pride in the victories over Westfield State and Babson, earning herself NEWMAC softball player of the week. The junior is one of the leaders of the maroon and white and knows that going forward, Springfield will have to keep the same mentality they have the entire season to be successful.
“Our team goal for the rest of the regular season is to take each game and play it like it’s the championship game,” explained Conley, who knows what it takes to get to the NEWMAC tournament. “If we do the little things right like we did against Babson, we will have no problem in the tournament against whoever we are playing.”
Springfield needed just one win in a doubleheader against Smith in order to officially clinch a spot in the NEWMAC tournament. The Pride got that resounding victory with a 13-0 defeat of Smith in five innings.
Now that the Pride have clinched, Bowen believes in the same thing she did at the beginning of the season. Coach talked before the year about each player being a spark and believes that her team has bonded together to become one.
“After our Spring trip to Florida you could see how well the team bonded together,” claimed Bowen. “Team 56 supports each other and pushes each other to be better. The best is yet to come for this team!”
The team being so close has been a big part of this team’s success and everyone believes it. Conley is one of the players that can be considered the glue of the roster and she too knows how important the team chemistry is to success.
“Our chemistry is what makes us very successful,” stated the infielder. “Our dugout is one of the most intimidating parts of the game. We have heard other teams mention that they want their dugout to be like ours.”
If the Pride want to be successful they will need more than just Conley to step up. In the circle, senior Shelby Allen and freshman Gill Kane will have to continue to do what they have been doing in the NEWMAC’s. Allen has been Springfield’s best this year, earning 8 wins in 17 starts and has a 1.87 ERA and 93 strikeouts. Kane is responsible for 7 wins in her 15 games started and has 31 strikeouts to her name.
Springfield has been a tough team to beat the entire season and that will continue to be the case in the NEWMAC tournament. The mindset is key for Springfield who knows that they are a good team.
“We all tend to snowball off each other. When one player is hitting well, we all hit well, and it creates a very intimidating game,” said Conley.
The knowledge that they can beat anybody is dangerous for the Pride and it makes their opponents just that much more fearful.
“All season we have been going into every game with a strong mindset”, said Bowen. “When playing the ‘best opponents’ our mindset doesn’t change because we have been playing hard in every game we compete in.”
Springfield starts the NEWMAC tournament on May 1st.
Photo courtesy Jack Margaros