BY MELISSA TORRE
Women’s softball players don’t make plans on Thursday nights. This week, they’re out on the field practicing as they prepare to take on Lynn University at their next three game series.
The team started out the season inconsistently, winning on opening day but suffering a 12-0 blowout at the hands of sixth-ranked Valdosta State Tournament and a narrow loss against Barry two games later.
“I’m not real happy with a 3-2 start, but it’s better than the alternative so I’ll take it,” head coach Leslie Kanter said. “I think if we can have a good weekend this weekend we can get our record back up to where I’d like it to be.”
The Spartans lost all three games this past weekend to Florida Tech, giving up a total of 24 runs by the end of the series. Senior pitcher Alyssa Bache played for UT during the first game on Friday, striking out eight but giving up five earned runs over six innings. The Spartans battled back in game two, losing by a narrow 7-5, and dropped the ball in the final game, losing by a lopsided 12-4 margin.
However, there are positive points that the team can build upon going forward. During their first tournament, they rallied together to shut out Nova Southeastern with a 6-0 final.
“They don’t like to lose and I don’t either,” Kanter said. “I think they didn’t like the feeling of it, so they stayed positive. We scored early in the next game and that was all we needed.”
The team has made it a point to remain upbeat at all times on the field, trying to stay mentally focused even when the scoreboard isn’t in their favor.
“We have to keep our heads in there,” junior third basemen Breanna Setree said. “There are going to be tough games. There’s going to be losses. They prepare us to play the game we know how to play. We just have to get out there and do it.”
The freshman class has been stepping up for the team according to Setree, including newbie pitcher Makaleigh Dooley. Dooley has showed she can pitch and hit, starting off her collegiate career with a 2-0 start on the mound and two RBIs against Barry.
A major reason for Dooley’s success has been the mentorship of senior pitcher Alyssa Bache. Bache has been working with Dooley this season to help prepare her for the challenges she will face going forward at the college level.
“[Bache] knows how it works,” Kanter said. “She’s taken Makaleigh under her wings and really has done a nice job with her: getting her comfortable, keeping her positive and just doing well for the team.”
Other key players for the team so far this season have been freshman catcher Erica Matich, who has recorded five RBIs so far this season, and sophomore shortstop Sahrina Cortes who has six runs this year.
According to Coach Kanter, this year’s team has been one of the best she’s seen in over 20 years of coaching. And not just because of talent. This group stays supportive of one another through both the good and bad.
“We’re teammates and we have each other’s backs. We pick each other up and shake it off if we make an error and we also try to make it a big deal and talk each other up and cheer when our team’s up at bat,” Dooley said.
As the team prepares to face Lynn University, they have been focusing on timely hits and staying focused during the game, says Dooley and Setree. The team also works on improving their defense daily as well. So far this season the team has 29 runs over the first eight games of the season, a .276 overall batting average, a .340 on base percentage, a .367 slugging average, and one home run.
“Anyone can come out and beat you, so we have to stay humble but want to win at the same time,” Dooley said.
The team looks to end their three game slide against conference rival Lynn this Friday at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free for students.