Softball captains share expectations for new season

Kyle Garrett, Staff Writer

Returning for their second year is head softball coach, Christopher Mazzeo along with team captains and seniors Katie Traver (third base), pitcher Maggie Miller, Emily Johnson (second base) and Lauren Aitken (first base).

The team captains have helped guide their fellow teammates through early practices and getting ready for a fresh attempt at the coming season.

“The past season was a little rough,” said Aitken.

“We had a lot of drama coming into the season, and we were all butting heads. This year, coming into it, we have a lot of team chemistry. Everyone likes each other, and agrees with everyone, so I think we’re going to have a pretty good season this year,” said Aitken.

Improving the team’s cohesion was a priority for the captains, who have found their team filled mostly with new players. They have stepped forward to minimize interpersonal conflicts in the roster, putting emphasis on making the whole team feel included.

Newly appointed assistant coach, Kristin Huestis, brought new drills and training methods to improve the team’s agility, strength, conditioning and fielding skills.

“We didn’t do a lot of agility stuff last year. We didn’t do anything,” said Aitken. “[There was] no conditioning at all.”

“We have better in-fielding drills,” said Emily Johnson. “We’ve [also] been doing a lot of bunting and bases coveraging drills.”

With recent snowfall, the softball team has been holding practices in the McDonough Sports Complex and the batting cages.

“[Softball is] on the bottom of the food chain,” said Maggie Miller.

In the past softball hasn’t been as successful as other Hudson Valley sports, such as baseball, soccer or football, which according to the captains, can lead to it being seen as lower in priority.

While some schools have softball teams with a long history of successful seasons, Hudson Valley’s softball program has not won a championship since 2007.

“[Last year] there was a lot of fooling around, and [players] not taking it seriously,” says Traver. “Everyone this year is really dedicated, and puts 100 percent into each practice.”

“We all work together,” said Emily Johnson. “Last year, we definitely didn’t.”

All student athletes must keep their grades above a certain level, and the softball players have mandatory study periods in the library. The sessions range from three to four hours depending on the student’s GPA.

These homework sessions are just one of the team bonding activities planned by the captains and coaches, which include going bowling and uniformity during practices. Coach Mazzeo will be taking the players’ phones away an hour before each game to encourage bonding and focus on the game ahead.

“Right now, nobody really likes the idea, because everyone’s attached to their phone, but now as we think about it, I think it will help us get our heads in the game,” said Aitken.

According to Aitken, the team’s chances are already strong and the captains are optimistic about their team’s chances for the season.

Their first game will be away against Mohawk Valley on Thursday, Apr. 1. The first home game will be the following Tuesday, Apr. 3 against Columbia Greene.

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