ENC’s Softball team, boasting six new players, has made an impressive 7-3 start through ten spring training games in Florida, compared to a 3-7 record from last year.
After a disappointing Florida run last season, the Lady Lions have bounced back significantly due to the new energy injected into the team by their younger players.
“There’s a different vibe from last year, we have a lot of energetic girls on the team that has really helped us to bond during practice, and it has shown in the games,” said pitcher Heidi Gomes on the season’s preparation.
The new additions of outfielders Kayleen Garrick, Ellisa McCarthy, and Gina Lozano have added speed and range to an already strong outfield. Newcomer Kori Bow has been a welcomed addition defensively in the infield to a team that struggled with defense last season.
The pitching staff has been a linchpin so far this season as they posted a 1.78 ERA collectively. After the struggles the staff endured last season, the addition of freshman pitcher Elisabeth Schaffer has been an unwelcomed surprise to opposing batters but not to second-year head Coach Dani Bishop.
“I expected this from her when I recruited her. She is a great pitcher, and she along with Heidi helped us out big time in Florida.”
Schaffer went 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA, and along with her pitching exploits, she was able to cap off her time in Florida with her first collegiate home run against Dominican on March 9. Coupled with the dynamic batting duo of Gomez and Schaffer was the pitching of both Meghan Stanley and newcomer Rachel Caswell. Combined, they offer a nice change of pace to the downhill velocity of their teammates due to their talent of changing speeds and eye levels on opposing batters.
On the offensive end, infielder Viviana Coix has sparked the ENC offensive attack with her team-leading .361 batting average. She has also led the charge on the base path with her four stolen bases, which combined with the rest of the team, gives them eight bases stolen in just ten games. Last season, the Lady Lions only managed to steal 17 bases all season. The Warrenville, Illinois, native gives the credit for her success to the solid program both Coach Bishop and new assistant Coach Janelle Bouchard have established.
“Our success speaks to the program we have in place. We can just funnel new players in with our older players and continue to gel with one another,” said Coix.
Much of the team dynamic was developed during the preseason training regimen that tested the resolve and commitment of players on the team. The Lady Lions had been waking up as early as 4:00am for practice leading up to Florida, a feat that has become more bearable as the season has progressed, especially for the returners.
“I used to dread 5:00am practices last year, but now I look forward to them because we have a lot of lively people on the team who make things fun,” said outfielder Emily Gomez.
A mix of skill development, weight training, and conditioning has certainly helped the Lions as they have been able to remain consistent throughout the duration of their games, holding leads they would have blown last season. Their first two victories showed significant growth from the last season as they were able to win in close games to start their season. Last season, the team was 1-4 in one-run games, but with their strong pitching staff and improving offensive attack, the Lions were able to shut the door on teams, outscoring their opponents 49-27 during their ten-game run.
With aspirations of breaking the school record of 16 wins, the Lady Lions are halfway there as they head into their regular season, capturing their first regular season win on March 23 against Mount Ida.