Photo courtesy of LC Athletics

Field of dreams

Softball sets their sight high for 2015 season

By Maddie Lee /// Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of LC Athletics
Photo courtesy of LC Athletics

My class was brought in to turn around the softball program at Lewis & Clark College.  This season is our last chance to do so and we’re determined to make an impact.

Of course, we’re not the first or last group to live by this mantra.  It’s a common theme in recruitment talks when the W’s aren’t rolling in, for all sports across the country.  The year we were being recruited, the Pioneers went 8-31.  The year before that: 3-36.

However, it wasn’t just a recruitment tactic; the program was truly looking to shift in a big way.  We were Head Coach Shawna Cyrus’s first complete recruiting class, and she brought in ten of us.  Due to injuries and transfers, we are now down to five: five seniors dedicated to fulfilling the promise we accepted when we committed to L&C.

We’ve seen a lot in the past few years.  Our freshman year, we went 5-33, tying for last place in the Northwest Conference with the University of Puget Sound.  The only upside was that it was the first year since 2006 that we hadn’t finished dead last.

The next year, Haley Robinson (‘16), Hannah Dal Pra (‘16), and Jill Pinder (‘16) joined us in achieving the best record this program has seen since 2001.  However, with a 16-22 record, we still finished sixth in conference.

The next year we went 12-25, despite adding five freshmen who not only filled holes in our defense, but also rounded out our batting order. After that disappointing season, we are even hungrier for success.

The trick to turning around a program is fostering a championship mentality.  The physical part is easy; the talent on this team only keeps improving.  What’s difficult is fully realizing what a special group we are.

Our four freshmen this season stepped onto the scene ready to make a big impression.  Their natural ability makes them all contenders for starting spots on the field.  Nicki Burnett (‘18), Paige Salavea (‘18), and Stephanie Garcia (‘18) add depth at catcher, first base and outfield, respectively; while Ateisha Norton (‘18) will shine anywhere you put her.

Tiana Rosario (‘17) and Dal Pra hold down the middle infield.  Rosario had a .936 fielding percentage at shortstop last season as a freshman, and Dal Pra led the team in batting average with a .351 average and 28 RBI’s.

At the corners, and at catcher, the competition between the youth and the experienced served as a motivator through the fall and will only continue to elevate our play.  Our six outfielders are also battling it out and all of our pitchers have worked diligently in the offseason to come back faster, stronger, and ready to be an asset to this team.

I can confidently say that this is the most promising team I’ve ever played on.  We have all the tools we need in order to make it to the tournament, and now we look to put it all together in our first game, Sunday Feb. 8, at home against Northwestern University.  Expect big things to happen this spring on the hill.

Article originally published on LCPioneers.com

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