In softball, a new season sometimes means new players. With new players comes a new dynamic. With a new dynamic comes new results. For the Springfield College Pride softball program, those new results have been highly favorable.
In their spring break trip last year, the Pride returned home with only two wins out of the ten games they played. Though they did start picking up more wins as the season wore on, but they still finished the season with a losing record of 18-21.
Present day, Springfield is 15-9, a drastic improvement from their record of 12-14 at this time last year. They started the 2016 season strong, earning a 6-4 record at spring training and using that to fuel further success in the regular season.
The Pride lost eight players from last year, leaving a hole at the shortstop position. That hole has been filled by two newcomers, freshmen Sam Cox and Linsdey Ziegler, who have held their own and made the transition as seamless as possible.
There were four other additions to the 2016 roster, bringing their own set of skills behind the plate, on the mound, and at second base.
However, even with all of the new and useful talent the Pride has acquired, head coach Julie Perrelli believes it is the mental aspect that has given the team their edge this year.
“The biggest difference I’ve seen is the cohesiveness, the work ethic, the focus, and the softball smarts of this group.” Perrelli said.
That focus has been highlighted on several occasions this season, with a good percentage of the Pride’s wins coming in walk-off fashion and extra innings.
Of course, those types of games have everyone on the edge of their seat, hanging on every pitch and swing of the bat. But in the end, it all comes down to who wants it more – who has both the laser focus and the timely skills necessary to perform under pressure. And more often than not, Springfield has been the one to come out victorious.
But now that the Pride knows they can play with the best, Perrelli wants to work on securing the lead earlier in the game to avoid those nail-biting extra innings.
“I’m happy that they’re wins, but now we need to redirect our focus to taking care of business a little bit sooner.”
A year ago, that wouldn’t have been the case. Any win, whether it was a walk-off or not, would’ve been just fine. But this year, Springfield recognizes their huge potential and wants to make the most out of it. They took all the frustration they felt during the 2015 season and used it to fuel the fire.
“I think that they are determined to do better than last year and they have that desire, that passion, and that work ethic to do so,” said Perrelli. “So it’s really the personalities of the team – everybody gets along really well, they work really hard, they have a lot of fun, and more importantly, they want to win.”