Softball battles in Florida tournament

Three days after the softball team opened up its season with two wins against Grove City in a doubleheader, the team headed to the National Spring Training Games in Clermont, Fla., where they went 4–5 during break.

Coach Sandra Sanford was looking for “growth” heading into the tournament.

“We’re relatively young, so we’re looking for folks who are in some new positions to start to settle in and get comfortable,” she said.

They opened against Eastern Connecticut State, the fourth ranked team in the nation, with an 8–2 loss.

On the second day of action, the Gators took a 4–1 loss to Bowdoin and then defeated Wisconsin-Stout 6–5 in an exciting come-from-behind win.

The Gators scored three runs in the seventh inning to come back and win against Wisconsin-Stout.

Amanda Downey, ’11, the game’s winning pitcher, hit a two-run homer in the second inning, scoring Nicole Rodi, ’13, who was 2–3 on the day with two runs and two RBIs.

Down 5–3, Stephanie Fort, ’13, singled and Maggie Bodenlos, ’10, reached on an error, setting the stage for a comeback in the seventh inning. After an RBI single by Rodi and a Wisconsin-Stout error, the Gators were able to tie the game. Sophia Katz, ’13, then drove in the winning run with a single.

The “never say die” attitude of the team shined in this game, Sanford said.

“It was a complete team effort offensively and defensively,” Sanford said. “I think what our team does really well is to just battle. That game really epitomized it.”

Fort agreed that the Wisconsin-Stout game was one of the best moments of the week.

“They were a really good team,” Fort said. “We capitalized on their errors and made the most of it.”

The Gators recorded a 4–2 win against Wisconsin-Whitewater on the third day of play.

Brittany Rung, ’13, led the Gators from the mound pitching all seven innings and allowing only two runs on six hits while Breanna Appleby, ’13, was 2—3 with two RBIs.

Later that day, the Gators fell to Trinity (Conn.) 9–1 before taking a day off.

“We were disappointed, and just generally upset,” Fort said. “We needed that time to regroup.”

The Gators returned to the field to defeat their opponents Colby and Carleton 8–4 and 6–0, respectively. Sanford credited the success to the pitching and the rest.

“We pitched two freshman pitchers [Rung and Fort] and they were both really solid,” Sanford said. “I was proud of the girls having utilized that day to rest and recover and get two wins on Thursday.”

On the final day of play, the Gators fell to Middlebury 7–0 and DePauw 6–3.

“Friday was disappointing to end the week like we did,” Sanford said.

She said they should have played better against Middlebury but they played very well against DePauw.

“Those two games kind of epitomized our trip,” Sanford said. “Two very different teams showed up.”

They played well against good teams but play poorly against average teams, she said.

The Gators concluded the tournament with a 4–5 record. All in all, it was a learning experience. The team met every night during the week to go over the good and bad parts of the day and how to change them for the next.

“Having that time together as a team is invaluable,” Sanford said. “That week is a learning opportunity for everyone.”

Now the team is back to the busyness of Allegheny where they don’t get to spend so much time together, but the games start to count.

After playing nationally ranked teams, the Gators intend to build upon their spring break experience to put together a strong performance in conference play.

“It was nice to be able to see our potential,” Fort said. “To see how good we can be, and see how we need to step it up.”

The Gators split a doubleheader against Mt. Union Tuesday in nonconference play.