Last year, Muhlenberg softball battled through a tough season for an overall record of 15-23 and Centennial Conference record of 8-8. They ended the year with a win against Franklin and Marshall, but they did not make it into the post season as they did the prior year. Hopefully this upcoming season the team can rediscover the success of their 2015 season when they made it to the Centennial Conference Playoffs.
The team usually begins to prepare for the season on Feb. 1 each year with a month-long preseason. The preseason consists of long practices in the Fieldhouse six times a week, as well as lifting at least twice a week during the month.
Before the season officially begins, the team travels to Clermont, Fl. for the annual tournament hosted by PFX Athletics. Karissa Astrella ‘18 plays second base for the team, and she says she really enjoys traveling to Florida for the tournament each year. “My favorite part is definitely Florida. We live in houses for the week and it is a blast.” Traveling to Florida is a nice perk, especially when one gets to represent the Mules in such a big tournament.
Unfortunately, when the team returns from the beautiful state of Florida, practice is pretty much limited to the indoors, which is Astrella’s least favorite part because she loves practicing and playing softball outside. But the team greatly benefits from competing in the tournament. “We see a lot of great competition in Florida. Some of the best teams go down there, so the games down there are vital to us seeing good teams. The trip is really important for defense and offense to experience live games.”
Such experience would also give the team time to work out any kinks or strategies going into the regular season to win the games that count.
“The team needs to improve on playing loose and having confidence on the field. We already have mproved so much just in our short fall season, which is really exciting. It is definitely and honor to be on the team.”
Not only is the team focused on improving their play, but they are also looking to have a good time and make friends. Astrella says the team is always together and they participate in team activities and community service. With so many frequent practices and activities, it is not surprise that they spend a lot of time together. Creating a bond off the field is important to the bond on the field, as it creates a more in-sync team and morale.
The team is looking forward to a successful season after not making it past the regular season last year. According to Astrella, the team has set some specific goals for this season, including enjoying the game and practices, working hard, enjoying playing with each other, and playing the game correctly.
“The team needs to improve on playing loose and having confidence on the field. We already have improved so much just in our short fall season, which is really exciting. It is definitely and honor to be on the team.”
There is also a brief fall season of 15 practice days and one play day, on which the team played three games.
Two seniors will return for the 2017 season, Courtney Simon and Sarah Merlo. But the junior class is much bigger with six returning, including Astrella (.310), Haley Fadek (6-10, 3.49 ERA), Hanna Caiola (.327), Hayley Peterson (9-9, 3.57 ERA) Paige Seitz (.262), and Amelia Shelley (.221). Last year, the Class of 2018 had a total of 112 hits and 57 runs last season, so they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. They have two more seasons left to become even stronger, so the next two seasons or so should see a pretty competitive team.
Reflecting back on the 2015 season when the team made it to the Centennial Conference Playoffs, and when Astrella was a freshman, she expects the team to make it to the playoffs this year. “Absolutely, we have such a strong team and we are all so close and that is the perfect combination for champions.” Astrella was only a freshman when the team was last in the playoffs, so it would be a dream ending if this season or next season the team went on to the playoffs and won a championship.
Astrella has many expectations for the team and high expectations to be precise, “We all want to work hard and have fun. When we are having fun, the wins will come. We expect to have a very positive season.”
With their preparation, teamwork, and willingness to work hard, it is not difficult to imagine the team finding success sooner rather than later.