By Graham Lucas
For most students, spring break was an opportunity to see relatives or live out an absurd MTV born fantasy in Cabo, but OWU softball spent their break accumulating a 7-3 record and a third place ranking in the NCAC.
Softball’s season began in both Fort Meyers and Cape Coral, FL where they played their first ten games. The 7-3 start is their best since 2011. Senior Amanda Barker said their trip to Florida “boosted the team’s confidence and helped realize what they are capable of.”
Barker, along with junior Danielle Haley, were large contributors to the team’s success in Florida. Barker, a pitcher, is currently 5-0 with a 1.05 earned run average, while Haley has a 1.20 ERA giving the Lady Bishops the lowest ERA in the conference. Barker’s efforts in Florida earned her NCAC pitcher of the week. Haley said she and Barker work in conjunction, not in competition.
“Amanda (Barker) and I feed off of each other’s confidence and work very well together,” Haley said. “If I’m doing something wrong she is the one to help me with my pitching and I do the same for her. Most people compete to play over each other but we encourage each other and want the one another to be successful.”
Senior Brooke Nethers is batting a team best .469 with 15 hits on 32 plate appearances. Nethers’ batting average has also earned her fourth place in the statistic in the NCAC. Nethers said she owes her achievements to her teammates.
“My batting average is where it is because of the hard work my teammates and I have put in during the indoor portion of our season,” Nethers said. “Our offensive practices are very focused and intense, and without these and the help of my teammates my batting average would not be as high as it is now.”
A young contributor to softball’s start is freshman Sarah Flint. Flint, a Westerville, OH native, has accumulated a team-high 11 runs batted in. She said her RBI’s can be attributed to her place in battling line-up and her teammates.
“I believe my spot in the batting line-up definitely improves my chances for RBI’s,” Flint said. “Because of my teammates’ success at the plate they are almost always on base when I come up to bat. They have worked hard to get on, so I want that hard work to pay off.”
The team went 14-22 in last year’s campaign, “a tough season” that they are looking to grow from, said Haley. They were also bounced by Allegheny in the first round of the NCAC tournament. Nethers said in order for them to be more successful than last year, the seniors need to lead.
“Senior leadership is the kind of thing that sets the stage for the whole team’s attitude towards every aspect of the game,” Nethers said. “This year our senior class is full of a bunch of diverse individuals who all bring something great to the team. I think that this is a major reason as to why we are successful thus far and will continue to be in the future.”
The Lady Bishops have yet to play a game since spring break due to lingering winter weather. They begin conference play at Wittenberg Saturday, March 30. Nethers said with the team hitting on all cylinders, anything is possible.
“Our potential this season is limitless,” Nethers said. “Our hitting is only going to get better as we see more and more live pitching. All of our pitchers are phenomenal and only continue to grow. We hope to end up playing in the national tournament and if things continue going the way they are, that is completely possible.”