PAWS Up! Anyone walking past a softball practice this spring will likely hear this phrase shouted from the depths of Faber-Clarke Field. Each season the softball team determines what elements will be most important for their success that year and formulates those elements into an acronym. For their 2016 campaign, the Duhawks’ philosophy is “PAWS.”
P — Presence over percent: The team is not focusing on statistics, they are focused on bringing a strong presence to the field every day, and that will translate to a high performance.
A — Adaptable: All players must be ready to fill any role coach asks of them.
W — Willing: Each member of the team must bring their best every day and be willing to play.
S — Sisterhood: With a family-like bond, this team can conquer it all.
It seems that by embodying the elements of PAWS, the team has gotten off to a great start in the nonconference season. The Duhawks swept Minnesota Morris and split with Crown this past weekend to start the year with a 3-1 record. Loras topped the Cougars in their season opener, 11-2 and 6-3. On day two in Minnesota, the Duhawks defeated the Storm 7-1 in game one, but they fell 4-2 in game two.
Head coach Ashley Winter is thrilled with the performance her team showed to start the year. She is even more impressed because the team took this opportunity to try new things and figure out a rhythm.
“I was pleased with our play this past weekend. Our goal was to learn as much as possible about our team, and we accomplished that. We tried a lot of different lineup combinations so we could see players in different roles and situations. I was pleased with how the players executed in those roles and how the team worked together throughout the weekend,” said Winter.
The Duhawks are able to execute so many lineup combinations due to the deep well of talent on the roster. Each position can be played by at least two athletes while some positions can be filled by as many as six players. This diversity gives Winter a lot of options to test during the nonconference season to find the best fit for action in the Iowa Conference.
In addition to the philosophy of PAWS that the team created, Winter has her own essentials she is looking for the team to exemplify this season.
“Our team’s biggest strength is our depth and versatility. Our main focus will be discovering the different player combinations where we are maximizing our strengths for each situation and opponent,” she said.
The Duhawks will have plenty of opportunities to experiment with their versatility over spring break. The team will be traveling to Clermont, FL, where they will play 2-3 games a day against opponents from many different states. This trip will allow the team to test lineups and harness their skills for the remainder of the season.
Loras will play its first game in the sunshine state on Saturday, March 19. The team’s first home game will be upon their return from FL, against UW-Platteville on Wednesday, March 30.
With a talented, versatile roster and their PAWS philosophy, the Duhawks have the potential to soar this season.