By Tom Albano
After a break from action, the softball team is preparing hard for the Patriot Classic, set to take place on March 1-3 at George Mason in Fairfax, Va.
Rider (1-3) will be playing five games over a three-day span, consisting of two against George Mason (2-4), two against Cornell and one against Rutgers (2-3). These games kick off a true regular-season pace for the team, following a three-week break since playing at the Hampton Inn Pirate Classic at East Carolina in Greenville, N.C.
Rider struggled during the Pirate Classic on Feb. 9-10, finishing with a 1-3 record. Despite this, freshman pitcher and first baseman Montana Berg believes that it was a very good learning experience.
“As a team, we learned what our strengths and weaknesses were and have been working on them,” Berg said. “Heading into the weekend, I think we all have higher expectations of one another and are hoping for some solid wins.”
The team felt that the Pirate Classic served as a learning experience for its young players. The team consists of only three seniors and two juniors, while the rest is composed of freshmen and sophomores. Despite the fact there are few older players, hopes for this season remain high among the team.
“I believe that the expectation for this season outside of the team is very low due to how young we are as a whole,” sophomore shortstop Gina McCool said. “However, the expectations for this season within our ball club is that we have the talent to beat anyone on our schedule. How we use our talent, whether it be collectively or individually, will be the difference between wins and losses.”
McCool said that the team is very excited to get back on the field after three weeks off as it focuses on the upcoming Patriot Classic.
“We are looking forward to making sure we have corrected the mistakes from the weekend at East Carolina and find other things to work on,” McCool said.
While the team has been training and focusing on working hard during practices the past three weeks, Berg said it has been difficult to get training done because of weather conditions.
“With the weather being so up and down, it’s been difficult to find good days to even make it out onto the field,” Berg said. “But when we do make it out, we make the most of it. There are only so many things we can work on indoors.”
Freshman infielder and catcher Kim Valdes also mentioned specifics about what the team has been working on during the practices.
“We have been focusing on situation hitting, special plays and keeping good communication and energy,” Valdes said.
Most importantly, the team believes that mentality is going to be a major part of its game. The Broncs are going to take it one game at a time, while challenging themselves physically and mentally. McCool believes that capitalizing on and learning from mistakes will make this team stronger.
“Winning at this level is about gaining information each day, whether it be from opponents or our own mistakes and using it to better ourselves,” she said.