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Big Red Softball 2014: An Insider’s View
CHRISTINA VILLALON- Mention the month of February to any Cornell softball player and they are sure to react with mixed emotions. Why? Well, February is not only a very exciting month, but also a very stressful month.
February is the beginning of a new season.
February is the starting line to the Ivy Championships race.
February is never-ending official practices—cut after cut, ground ball after ground ball, pitch after pitch…after pitch.
February is a full month strictly of preparation for the spring season.
February. Is. Crucial.
It allows for skills to be perfected before facing opponents. It begins to allow for starters to rise to the top while the rest of the team continually pushes to improve, knocking on the door, ready to perform if the job isn’t getting done.
However, February is also cold.
And did I say cold?
As many Cornellians know, February in upstate New York can prove quite frigid. Despite being an outdoor sport, the majority of February practices take place indoors due to the harsh weather. When practicing indoors, one can only do so much to try and emulate game-like situations.
All this time indoors can lead the team to get a little stir-crazy, causing February arguably to feel like the longest month of the year. There is so much anticipation building for what the new season will bring. Then, just when one begins to doubt whether the flowers are ever going to bloom, or whether spring will ever beat away the winter storms, just when the thought of one more practice in the ‘green room’ is almost sickening, it’s finally time to pack up the good ol’ Swarthout bus and head down to Virginia.
It’s finally March—and not a moment too soon.
The Big Red’s regular season begins with the Patriot Classic at George Mason University the weekend of March 1st, returning to GMU the following weekend as well. The next two weekends contain trips to the Delaware Invitational, and the Delaware State Invitational, respectively, before facing Dartmouth in their Ivy-opener at Neimand-Robison Field for a doubleheader on March 28th.
Unlike past years in which Spring Break occurred before conference play began, this year, with the implementation of Cornell’s new academic calendar, the Big Red will face Dartmouth with 15 games under their belt. This is seven short of what they began Ivies with the previous year.
After Dartmouth/Harvard weekend on March 28th and 29th, the Big Red will spend spring break in the Washington D.C. area to play a few doubleheaders before traveling to New Haven to continue on the road to Ivy Championships, taking on Yale and Brown on April 4th and 5th, respectively. The next three weekends include games against the other Ivy South Division Teams, UPenn, Columbia, and Princeton, with midweek games sprinkled in the mix. Cornell’s final regular season game is scheduled for April 29th against Binghamton University.
This year Cornell looks to improve their 21-29 record from the 2013 season. Two new assistant coaches and three new freshmen will join the Big Red ranks who return seven of last years’ starters who are hungry to avenge last years’ 8-12 Ivy League record.
However, the record itself doesn’t tell the complete story. Seven of the Big Red’s losses were decided by a single run, and five of their losses went into extra innings. They put up some big numbers at the plate, debatably the best of the last three years. They hit .290 as a team with 92 doubles, ranking second in the nation at the Division I level for doubles per game, and second in Cornell history for most doubles in a season. Defensively they finished with a .962 fielding percentage.
In order to be successful this year the team will need to capitalize on those close games, while continuing to hit the ball hard. Dedicated coaches, weight room workouts, and individual workouts throughout the fall have played a large role in getting the team prepared for the start of the season, now just around the corner.
February is…almost here…and the team can’t wait.