By: HENRY FREESE
As the melting snow lingers on the softball field and cold temperatures linger in the air following the most recent blast of cold air from the Polar Vortex, IU South Bend’s softball team is preparing for their first game on March 9. Their first game takes them to warmer climates, in Clermont, Fla.
Filling their Spring Break, the Titans will keep a busy game schedule while away.
“Early on, our spring trip is pretty much going to be the first time that we are on a softball field. So that trip is going to be used to get more of the kinks out, get things figured out in the field, seeing a lot of live pitching and then, hopefully, as the season progresses, when we come back, we can fine-tune everything. As the season goes on, [we] get things figured out on the field, and hopefully make the conference tournament,” said Brittany Vanderbrink, freshman middle infielder for the Titans.
On Saturday, March 9, the Titans will play at 1:30 p.m. against Grace College, with their second game of the day at 3:45 p.m. against Carlow University.
Then on Sunday, March 10, the Titans will face off against Warner University at 9:30 a.m., followed by St. Mary’s-of-the-Woods College, at 11:45 a.m. They will then take on Lourdes University on Tuesday, March 12, at 9:15 a.m., followed by the College of St. Mary, beginning at 11:30 a.m. The following day, on Wednesday, March 13, the Titans will face the Indiana Institute of Technology team, beginning at 3:45 p.m.
Then Friday, March 15 at 11:15 a.m. the Titans will face off against Lawrence Technical University.
The busy spring break trip will wrap on Friday, March 15, with the last game against Missouri Baptist University at 1:30 p.m.
There is also a sense of urgency to pass along any last-minute advice or pieces of wisdom from the outgoing senior class to the current freshman class.
“If there is anything I want to get across this season, it is to play every game like it is your last. It is just crazy how fast time flies by because I remember my freshman year of softball like it was yesterday. So, now that it is almost over, I get emotional thinking about it,” said senior pitcher Bailey Bruce.
Following their return from Clermont, Florida, the Titans softball team will return to action on Friday, March 22, with a doubleheader against Siena Heights University, beginning at 3:00 p.m., at Adrian, Michigan, with the second game to follow immediately after the conclusion of the first game.
Overall, the players, as well as the coaching staff, has an optimistic outlook for the upcoming season.
“Individually, I hope to work towards hopefully earning a starting spot [on the roster], and as a team, I hope that we can string hits together to score more runs, and keep positive attitudes throughout the season, and I think if we continue to work hard, we can have a winning season and make the conference tournament,” said Haylie Williamson, freshman outfielder.
Bruce is optimistic of the athletes coming up through their team.
“I think that if we can just string all those assets together, then we can be really successful,” said Bruce.
The coaching staff for the Titans is optimistic as well.
Coach Brittany Lightfoot, and assisted by Assistant Coach Natalie Newell, enters the third season of the IU South Bend Women’s Softball Team program, with an optimistic outlook on the upcoming season.
“This year’s team is our most diverse team yet. We have many girls who can power slap or lay down a bunt when needed. Our depth of 20 players this year has allowed us to expand our resources at each position and find what will work best for us as a team, not only offensively, but defensively, as well,” said Lightfoot. “Our goal each season is to compete in our conference tournament in hopes of moving our program towards the national level. We pride ourselves in teaching our girls, ‘You get out of it what you put into it.’”
The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) usually has two or three times that goes to Nationals to compete for a National title, according to Lightfoot.
“Our coaching staff is looking forward to what this year’s team can do, and their ability to adjust and adapt when necessary,” Lightfoot said.