These first weeks of the season have been all about learning how each player fits in the puzzle for the Loras College softball team. Team 44 is a complete new set of skills, and they have been trying to find the perfect way to optimize all of them. The program has kept that in mind, coming down to Florida.
The lineup is constantly changing and head coach Ashley Winter has been challenging the Duhawks every day. Three days in, and the team is 2-3-1, with two more varsity games left to play, along with one varsity reserve. This trip has been a learning and bonding experience for Team 44.
First-year catcher Hannah Wubben said, “I am a quiet person, so it has been nice to be able to take this trip and spend time with the team. Especially being a first-year, and spending a majority of my time with pitchers and catchers, it has been nice bonding with people I normally do not spend time with.”
This trip is a pivotal point in the season because of that very reason. They are bonding with players they normally are separated from in practice. It helps with the overall team trust, and the players don’t play for themselves, but for their teammates. Florida was not only beneficial socially, but for strategy as well.
Junior pitcher Emily Reilly says, “I feel as though we are still trying to get into our groove, and we are just trying to trust the process as we head into conference games. We continue to look back at games in order to improve for future play.”
This has been evident throughout the week as the Duhawks have gone into extra innings in two separate games. It shows the grit, and determination of the team. In the game against Benedictine University, in the eighth inning, junior outfielder McKenna Hawkins fired one home from left field to throw the winning run out.
It is that grit and determination that will propel the team forward entering conference play. Another aspect of the game that has been evident is the speed of the team. Coach Ashley Winter has been excited about using that speed to their advantage in order to get runners into scoring position.
They have been having fun trying out different steal plays and testing where they can get extra bases. Aggressive base running has always been something the program focuses on, but this year they are reaching new heights. The Duhawks start conference play on Saturday, March 30 on the road against Nebraska Wesleyan.