The Seton Hall women’s softball team will be hitting the field for the first time in over nine months on Friday, Feb. 10 when it takes on Memphis in the Felsberg Invitational.
The Pirates’ last game was a loss in Queens to St. John’s on May 8, and the team ended on a six-game losing streak to finish out a 2016 campaign with a record of 20-34. Head coach Paige Smith vows this season will be different.
“We’ve been outside on our own field longer and it hasn’t made the team cage crazy like in the past,” Smith said. “Now we see what we have, and I’m excited to see how it all stacks up.”
Getting a feel for the game again and preparing for the season, especially in the past few weeks, has brought the spark back to the team, and a twinkle in many players’ eyes. One of those players is senior pitcher and utility player Lauren Fischer, who made 22 appearances as a hitter and 11 in the circle in 2016 before a season-ending injury. Fischer is one of the many players who cannot contain her excitement.
“Excitement is an understatement; we’re all jumping out of shoes to get back out there,” Fischer said. “We’ve worked a lot on our team chemistry and everything fell into place, and it translates to the field really well.”
The team has been strengthened in all aspects over the offseason, according to Smith. From team bonding activities that have helped the team and specifically six freshmen come together, to hiring two new assistant coaches and bringing in an additional volunteer assistant, Smith said that a jump from last season to this season will be evident.
“I’m excited to bring in somebody new like [assistant coach] Kate Nygaard who has had over 15 years of college coaching experience,” Smith said. “I’m also happy with [assistant coach] Brittany Grage because she’s a good person and you know she’s coming from the right spot and when dealing with pitchers, it’s nice to have someone with a gentle hand.”
After all that had happened in 2016 and adjusting on the fly to a lot of issues, especially injuries, the Pirates are back in full force and ready to show teams what they are capable of, playing a tougher non-conference and tournament schedule that will lead the Pirates into the First Annual Pirate Invitational from March 17-19, and then right into Big East play.
“We’ve been putting ourselves out there and trusting the process,” Fischer said. “If we go all out aggressive and play Seton Hall softball, we’re going to be successful.”
Seton Hall is filled with bigger expectations for themselves and for the team, and will look to prove to their opponents what is in store.
“Every single kid has raised their game and it’s made my job so much harder,” Smith said. “The first three weeks are going to be a tryout to see what’s in store; everyone has earned the right to start a game early. We are also deep in our pitching, after having [Fischer] back from injury.”
The Pirates’ first game of the season will take place on Friday, Feb. 10 in Miami, Fla. when they take on Memphis at 1:30 p.m. Then they will face Florida International later that night at 6:30 p.m. for an opening day doubleheader. Seton Hall will also face Rutgers twice in the 2017 Felsberg Invitational, where the team will play five games in three days.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.