Softball suffers cold start in the desert

Although the women’s softball team’s trip out west for its season-opening tournament was warm, its time there wasn’t pleasant. The women went 1-4 in the Grand Canyon kickoff tournament, including three straight losses to start out the weekend.

“I have mixed emotions about the weekend,” head coach Amy Hayes said. “Game one was OK, game two was OK, [but] game three was not OK. In game four we kind of snapped out of it and changed up our lineup and got some more spark … I’d rather go through those bumps right now than later on.”

The bumpy road for the Braves kicked off last Friday with a 6-5 loss to Northern Colorado, followed by 7-4 and 11-3 losses to Grand Canyon before finally winning 9-1 over Northern Colorado.

The women finished the weekend with a 5-4 loss in their second game against Northern Colorado Sunday.

According to Hayes, the culprit for the struggles was the extra base hits allowed by her pitchers, especially the younger members of the team. The Braves allowed 12 doubles on the weekend, and Hayes said that’s not exactly what they wanted.

“You’re not going to be very successful giving up 12 doubles in five games,” Hayes said. “For us, it’s a matter of moving the ball around the zone a little bit more. We practice throwing all over the zone and being able to throw to like six different spots. When you’re only throwing it to two, it makes it a lot easier for the hitters.”

The pitching staff allowed 20 earned runs in 30 innings pitched, including 10 allowed combined from freshmen Emily Visnic and Emma Jackson. However, Hayes said she felt both left the weekend with reasons for optimism.

“Our freshmen had freshmen outings,” Hayes said. “They have to settle in a little bit, but we need it to be sooner rather than later.”

Despite the losses, there were positive flashes. After subtle adjustments from the coaching staff early in the weekend, the team hit the ball well. The women hit .305 for the weekend, anchored by sophomore Megan Mahaffy, junior Maria Shroeder and senior Caitlin McCarron, who combined to go 18-30 with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI.

“You want to always say you’re seeing the ball well,” McCarron said. “When I see the ball coming in my zone, I like to have an aggressive at-bat, so when I get the opportunity, I’ll swing at it … I’d rather be a threat than timid. [The ball] kind of just looks like a beach ball right now.”

McCarron’s aggressive approach certainly worked out for her, but Hayes said she would like the team to dial down its desire to swing a little bit.

“[The hitters need] to be a little bit more patient,” Hayes said. “When you look at our strikeouts, I don’t think anyone won’t come right at us. We have to be able to control our emotions at the plate a little bit.”

McCarron said even though the results weren’t what the team wanted, it was good for them to finally get out there and play.

“I think, especially for the underclassmen, it was nice for them to finally see us play after about a month and a half of practicing,” McCarron said. “I think the team is just ready to learn from what we got this weekend and bounce back.”

The Braves will try to bounce back beginning at 2:30 p.m. today against Northern Colorado and 7 p.m. tonight against New Mexico State at the Troy Cox Classic in New Mexico.