One might think that the Maryville College softball team’s first winning game of the year was a brief high in a tough season of lows. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Such a thought could only come from someone who does not know the team well, as this record does not reflect the leaps and bounds that is being made by this very young team.
“Looking from the inside out, we have done remarkably in understanding where we need to be and how to do it together,” said head coach Kim Woodard.
Indeed, a lot of changes happened in this team between last year and now. Everyone had to work with a new staff except for Woodard, and the team is almost entirely composed of freshman and sophomore players.
“There is just one junior and one senior—me,” Andrea Brew said. “It is a whole new team.”
This is, however, not seen as a problem but more as a chance to build a very competitive team for the years to come.
“We are such a young team, they have 2-4 years to grow and improve” Brew said.
Woodard agreed that a young team can bring some difficulties, but she also agrees with Brew about the potential of this team.
“Having a young team and them not having the college experience is hard, but good in the long run so that they can build their talent together to build a great chemistry on the field.”
In the end, the chemistry in a team is one of the most important things if you want to see results. As a result of so many young players arriving during the fall semester, the pre-season preparation had to be changed a little bit..
More team bonding activities have been organized in order to get to know everyone beyond just the field.
“We did some mountain challenge activities, game nights and team dinners throughout the fall and in January,” Woodard said.
These bonding activities and the time spent in training together start to pay off so that class differences are not so obvious anymore.
“We have grown to trust in one another no matter what class you are in,” Woodard said.
Brew agreed with the disappearance of class rank, but she still feels that sometimes some girls naturally still look up to her because she is the oldest and the most experienced.
“It is extremely hard…but anyone can be a leader and lead in their own way,” Brew said.
The new team is also developing, and, according to Woodard, everyone has grown a lot in the past several weeks.
“We have had a lot of ups and downs, but we have gotten through them and have become a better team,” Woodard said.
Even though the series of lost games could worry any coach, Woodard said she was not worried.
“The defeats at the beginning of the season were lessons that we learned from,” Woodard said.
Not getting too excited about this first winning game was also very important for the coach in order to stay focused for the games to come.
“Once we got the win, I hoped we would not act like we just won the championship or something,” Woodard said.
The players were still very excited by this first win, but they could not believe it at the same time.
“We were all kind of quiet and shocked. We were more like, ‘Is it really over?’ but still really relieved and excited that it finally happened,” Brew said.
The team was also confident and knew its hard work would pay off sooner or later.
Brew went on to say, “Everyone goes through a slump, but we all find a way out of it.”
There are more games coming up and a chance to get into the conference tournament, which kicks off in the second week of April. This is the objective of Woodard.
“The team is working hard at practice every day, and I believe that they will do this,” she said.
The few next games are going to be important for the team and will help them see where they really are collectively. Even if it is not as good as they might hope, the record does not always reflect the potential of a team.
This team of youngsters definitely has a very high potential and a very real opportunity for great successes in the future.