The 2019 Mules softball team is rounding third and headed to Florida. Their season will officially begin in Kissimmee, Fla. as they prepare to partake in THE Spring Games.
Following a flat 2018 campaign, eight freshmen have come in to fill the void of six graduated players. The 2019 squad is eager to put Muhlenberg softball back on the map and complete its first winning season since 2015. However, in order in to accomplish those goals, the squad is embracing team building tactics in order to create an atmosphere of family. Their trip to Florida plays a large role in creating that sense of family.
Although THE Spring Games begin on Mar. 2, where the Mules face off against the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the Mules’ season starts much sooner as they must prepare and ready themselves for the season. For Sarah Karmazyn ‘22, the team has already made great strides in starting their season off strong, as they have been preparing for both the Florida trip and beyond. “In preparing for our trip, we have been having intense lifts, conditionings and practices six days a week. We have all really seen growth. I think this will be a great year for us if we keep it up as a team and stay together.”
With all the training that is going on inside the gym, it is all building up to the moment when the team finally steps foot out onto the field down in the Florida sunshine to show everyone how dominant they can be. “I am really excited to just get outside and start playing. This offseason and preseason have been a lot of fun, getting to watch the team develop and really come together. I think everyone is ready to just get on the field already.”
As the eight new freshmen are on the verge of officially beginning their collegiate careers, the role of the upperclassmen as mentors is crucial for the long-term success of Muhlenberg softball. “The upperclassmen have definitely been great mentors for us. We come in having not much knowledge of how the system works and having them to teach us the principles behind Muhlenberg softball is incredible because in the end, we are representing the program as a whole not only on the field but in the classroom.”
While the excitement builds for the anticipated season, the opportunity to bond and build a family is available in their trip to the Sunshine State. Such an opportunity, much like the women’s volleyball team had on their trip to Minnesota, is extremely important to the success of the program. Kristina Qualben ‘19 strongly believes in the importance of such a roadtrip to get the season underway. “The trip is vital to our program because it kickstarts our season in that it’s the first time we actually get outside and see what we can do. It helps us identify the things we need to work on when we get back to school before we play conference games. It also gives us the opportunity to bond with each other and form relationships on the field before getting into conference games,” said Qualben.
“The trip to Florida is one of the most exciting parts of the season. It’s awesome because all we have to worry about that week is playing softball and it’s a great break from school. The time spent there as a team definitely brings us together because we’re with each other 24/7 hanging out and playing the game we love,” said Qualben. “For the freshmen, it’s a great learning experience because you get that week to adjust to college level play before jumping into conference games. After being cooped up in the field house for the month of February, it’s great to finally get out and play in some nice weather too.”
Though the palm trees and the warm sun may add a nice aesthetic, the team maintains a goal of building camaraderie in Allentown, Pa. too.
“One of the team building activities we do is the DOM1N4TE Course. The course is a combination of stations where we are challenged mentally and physically. We’re divided into teams and are tasked to work through obstacles together as a unit. It’s a great team building exercise as you get to test your ability and get to know your teammates on a different level,” Qualben explained.