Head coach Paige Smith recognizes the outgoing personalities of her outfield. Although she says she feels like a “grandma” when listening to the jokes of her outfielders, she enjoys how they act as a goofy team outside the softball field. On the field, however, they know how to get in the zone. This year, for the outfielders, the 2019 campaign has been dubbed “Savage Season.”
The predecessor of this year’s motto was “Everything is Routine.” Despite the phrase defining how to make everything look easy on the diamond, it did not bring out the persona of the team. Although it is still up for debate on who created this year’s mantra, it better describes the team, and it motivates the outfield to play to their potential.
“It’s more of an evolution of our outfield,” Hailey Arteaga said. “In the beginning, we were just like, ‘Ok, everything is routine. Let’s just make the plays.’ Now, we are just consciously going out there and playing aggressive, calling people off, just going crazy.”
Arteaga has been exemplifying the values of “Savage Season”, being a major proponent of the outfield as the everyday left fielder. Arteaga has been the program’s most efficient producer inside the batter’s box in the first 26 games this season. She owns the third-highest batting average in conference play at .395, accounts for the third-highest slugging percentage in the Big East, and leads the league in doubles.
Another contributor to this year’s play in the outfield is Darby Pandolfo. Pandolfo is another cog of the outfield showcasing how “Savage Season” has elevated the play of the unit, as she leads the team with four home runs. Even though Pandolfo is now motivated by the expression, she was not sure how the expression would impact the locker room at first.
“I kind of looked around and just thought, ‘Uh’,” Pandolfo said. “But, then I thought, this is cool, this is what we are about. We all bought into it.”
When it came to picking other names, too, none just seemed right.
“This is the one. This is it.”
How the players and coaches perceive “Savage Season” may be in a different view from each other. Yet, they can all realize the similarities. Smith and the players both understand a key component in success – fun.
“They are savage in everything they do, mostly because they are funny,” Smith said. “They are straight savage in how funny they are. They play the game like it is meant to be. I am a big New York Yankees fan, and they play like Nick Swisher used to. Everyone used to love seeing him play because he was out having fun. This is what this team is doing, and they are putting up good numbers while doing it.”
“Savage Season” has not only increased the level of competition of the outfield, but it has also made the team more competitive as a whole.
“The infield is actually jealous,” Smith said. “They want their own motto.”
“Savage Season” has already been a major success for the program. Not only have the outfielders been maximizing their efforts on the field, but they have also maximized their efforts on social media.
On their trip to Florida during spring break, the outfielders would demonstrate their ability to show their off-field charisma that Smith lauds them for. While waiting between action on the field, the outfielders performed the Macarena, shoot bow and arrows, and even orchestrated a fashion show. The performances were filmed and posted to Twitter, blowing up to more than 40,000 views and shared by the official NCAA Softball Twitter page.
For the softball team, being savage does not mean you cannot have fun.
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_fallo.