Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break Means Spring Training

By Colleen Pagnani

For college students, March usually means one thing in particular: Spring Break. For a week, they are free to do whatever they want, go wherever they want, and just take advantage of their freedom. For student athletes, however, Spring Break means Spring Training.

One team in particular, the St. Thomas Aquinas College softball team, took advantage of this week to work on their game down in Florida.

Clermont, Florida is the home of the National Training Center where Division II colleges travel to and play softball from the end of February through March. This past week was spring break at STAC. Delay after delay due to an un-spring-like snowstorm, finally the softball team managed to get on their flight and arrive in sunny Florida the night of March 8th.

Throughout the week, the team was scheduled to play eight games with doubleheaders on each of those full days. Not only were there games to be played, but practices were also fit into the schedule. Not to mention the fact that Florida is known for showers during the day so they had to do their best to get the games in.  

The trip did not solely revolve around softball--even though that was the main focus--the team also spent most of Monday enjoying some free time at SeaWorld.

With three starters having graduated from last year’s team, STAC did not have too much to change. Most importantly, the team is surrounded by positive energy and great leadership from the seniors who have experienced the worst to get to this point. Out of the eight games St. Thomas played, they came back to New York having won three and lost five. Though their record could have been better, they played well and came away with wins against very talented teams.

One game in particular stands out. On March 12th STAC was set to face American International University from Springfield, Massachusetts at 9 am. The weather for that day, however, was not too promising for a softball game to be played. The game started on time, but a quick 20 minutes into the game the rain was really coming down.

Both pitchers struggled throwing strikes due to the lack of grip they could get on the softball because of the rain. The third inning STAC broke through offensively, with Toni Ann Groth hitting a bases-clearing grand slam! The problem with that was once that inning was over, the umpire made the call to postpone the game and wait out the storm.

Luckily for St. Thomas and Groth, the game picked up again almost two hours later, keeping the score the way it was.

Coming back from a long break was challenging for the STAC players, yet they still seemed to overcome the adversities the game brings and come out victorious. For the girls on the team, this was a huge game to win, proving to them that they’re just as good as any team out there as long as they work hard and stay focused. They cannot control the uncontrolables.

With their Spring Training trip out of the way, the softball team has hopes of a winning record this year and overall improvement from last year’s season that did not go well. Who knows, though, with all this late season snow and below average temperatures, when they will actually be able to start their season in New York.

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