By Nick Bravos
The Saint Mary’s University softball team is busy with its off-season preparations for the Feb. 1 season opener.
The team lost four starting senior infielders last year to graduation. However, with the help of a large freshman class, they’re looking to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and overall 23-16 record.
NCAA regulations state that a coach is allotted 12 scheduled practices in September. After that “we can’t tell them what to do in the off-season,” said Head Coach Jen Miller. “We put heavy influence on fundamental work [in September] so that continues throughout the off-season.”
“The only game plan is getting our team chemistry up and getting some sort of routine,” said junior captain Hailey Ohl. “It looks like another great season coming up if we can keep up on working hard as we are now.”
The body of their season takes place during a compact schedule of 28 games in April. “Softball is a game where improvement comes in the off-season because our season is so short,” said junior captain Paige Carter.
“Our goal is to make another MIAC tournament appearance,” said Carter. “We did it last year, and we could very well do it again.”
The first test for the SMU softball team will come during its spring trip to Florida in March “to see where we are as a team and what we need to sharpen up on before conference games start,” said Carter.
Last March, they travelled to Tuscon, Ariz. where they achieved a 7-3 overall record, clinching victories against nationally-ranked Iowa teams, Coe College and Central College.