Reflection time: Softball reflects on “building year”

Matthew Barrett

Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17

softballl_hanaisihara17

Lafayette softball has left 76 runners on base so far this year and that stat alone could ultimately end up defining its season.

It’s part of a long list of ignominious accolades the Leopards have accrued this year. Lafayette sits last in every major category in the Patriot League – batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage (OBP), runs scored, hits and RBIs.

Averaging just 1.93 runs per game, the problem may not lie in the hitting, but a lack of opportunistic scoring, according to freshman pitcher Kristyn Marinelli.

“We call it ‘cashing runs.’ We haven’t been able to produce runs with the base runners we have,” Marinelli said. “That’s the biggest problem, getting runners into scoring position.”

Despite their 5-25 overall record (3-9 Patriot League), players are trying to stay positive about the season and don’t feel embarrassed about their play.

“It’s a building year for us, having a new coach and we’re a young team,” Marinelli said. “I wouldn’t say it’s embarrassing, we just recognize that we’ve been struggling and we’re trying to fix them as best as we can.”

One positive that the team has been able to pull from this season is that they have been playing more quality opponents. This season, the team traveled west over spring break to face Idaho State (23-16), Southern Utah, and Boise State (21-18). The team also faced Longwood (30-9) with the 71st best RPI in the country.

“We have played competitive teams all season resulting in a higher RPI than last season,” first year coach Jexx Varner said. “‘Easy win’ games don’t help us grow, so the experience we gain each week will help us later on in the season as well as next year. Also, we have had a lot of young players getting time and reps.”

This certainly has been a rebuilding year for the team, with only two seniors on the roster. Heading into May, the team has to stay physically sharp and healthy, as well as mentally focused on what they can control, according to Varner.

The hardest part about this season has been keeping morale high.

“As coaches, our focus during these times are to stay positive, show the players we believe in them and get excited for chances to turn it around,” Varner said.

Lafayette must place fourth in the league to solidify a spot in the Patriot League tournament tournament. The Leopards are chasing Boston University, Holy Cross, and Army, all standing at 5-4 in Patriot League play. Fourteen games remain and will determine if they can alter this course.