The softball team opened up their season with a 1-3 record and a ninth-place ranking in the SUNYAC pre-season poll.
The team traveled to Salem, V.A. on March 1 to compete at the Beach Blast In The Mountains tournament. The Lady Hawks dropped their first two games to Eastern Mennonite University and Washington College, respectively, before picking up their first win the next day against Centenary College. The team would then go on to lose against Kean University.
The tournament was the first time the team has played outside since the fall. Newly-minted Head Coach Brittany Robinson said the team struggled with both adjusting to the new environment and playing against their opponents rather than one another in practice.
“I think seeing them outside made me see things differently and change course on how and what we need to practice,” Robinson said. “I think our pitchers did an okay job, but I think it’s interesting to see them hit off of other players rather than the other girls on the team.”
The team currently has an overall batting average of .331 and a .352 on-base percentage. Robinson said the team’s aggressiveness on offense was strong, but that their defensive game is an area they will look to improve once they enter conference play.
As of right now, the Lady Hawks have a .967 field percentage and four errors on the season. Third-year pitcher and utility player Erika Traina said the team’s mental focus after mistakes during games is something that needs to imrove before the team swoops back into competition.
“If we make an error, we need to shake it off,” Traina said. “We’ll let other players get on base and from there we can lose focus.”
Third-year Captain Shayna Burgess said the team will also look to improve communication with one another during games. She also said the team plays best without pressure to get on the scoreboard, so they strive to get on the board first rather than having to come from behind.
After the tournament, the team was ranked ninth among other SUNYAC teams, as voted by all of the head softball coaches in the conference. Burgess said the ranking came as a “shock” to the team after coming off of a season where the team qualified for the SUNYAC Tournament.
“It’s a huge insult,” she said. “We played well last season and the ranking shows that everyone is underestimating us. I think the other coaches in the conference think since we lost some really talented players, we’re not going to be as competitive, but in reality we’re returning most of our team from last year.”
The team earned a berth in last year’s SUNYAC Tournament as the No. 5 seed, but were ousted by SUNY Cortland in the first round. Traina said the team’s success from last season made the current ranking a “slap in the face,” but that the team will try to play it to their advantage.
“Other teams may play against us and think it’s an easy win, but we’re not going to be playing like a No. 9 team,” she said. “Being the underdog wasn’t a role we wanted, but I think we can work that to our advantage.”