The Seton Hall softball team swept the Inaugural Pirate Invitational over the past weekend, winning all four contests it played in, and winning three by way of the mercy rule. The Pirates seemed confident, relaxed and poised after fighting off cold weather conditions to take down its opponents.
The team returns several starters from last season, and has also added in a few key freshmen newcomers. The upperclassmen core, however, has led to the Pirates being more trusting and supportive of each other not just off the field, but also on it.
“We have the most amazing leadership this year,” Smith said. “It’s not one single person and I think that’s important because over the course of how many games we play and how much we’re out here practicing, we’re in the gym before 6 a.m. almost every day. It all can’t fall on one person so it’s really exciting to see a variety of girls set up.”
Currently on a four-game winning streak after the tournament, Seton Hall sits at 12-9-1 with a three-game set against Big East foe Villanova starting on Saturday. According to Smith, the team’s chemistry and energy levels have both been working hand in hand in order to contribute to a more cohesive unit.
“We’re making it a point as a coaching staff to acknowledge the leadership; we actually have an award that goes to whoever is most ‘Hall In,’” Smith said. “It’s been somebody different every week and everyone contributes to it, so at the end of the year it will be named after whoever has won it the most.”
Now a junior, Alexis Walkden has been one of the players who has been a leader on the team after having two strong seasons already under her belt. The veteran-rookie mentality has been creating a stronger unit, and allows both groups to learn something new.
“We’ve showed up in different ways every game, and it’s been great to see,” Walkden said. “Going into Big East play, we need everyone in those different situations to show up, and that’s been a great surprise.”
It is not always the junior and senior players who make the biggest impact on the team. No matter the strengths or weaknesses, Walkden has seen all players take each other into their own arms this season.
“It’s great because of all of the new talent we have, and that makes it easier in allowing the older girls to play their own game and you don’t have to be too big,” Walkden said.
Walkden added that this Pirates team in particular has the potential to be not only her favorite, but also one of the best.
“This is honestly one of my favorite teams I’ve played on,” Walkden said. We all trust and love each other, and we know whoever is in the moment will get the job done and that’s a great feeling.”
Seton Hall will aim to use its impact freshmen and skilled veterans to take on the Wildcats and put their four-game winning streak on the line on Saturday, March 25, with the first game of a doubleheader set for noon.
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.