The softball team ended last season having missed its chance to make an appearance at the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament.
The Owls have said all along that this season would be different. And it has been different. But it hasn’t been easy.
During the spring training portion of their schedule, the Owls won only four of 17 games to begin the year. It wasn’t until the team played A-10 rivals that it started to generate some numbers in the win column.
The Owls currently trail Massachusetts, Fordham and Charlotte in the A-10 standings. They need to hold onto their fourth place spot to receive a berth in the tournament, which will be held May 11-13 at Ambler Sports Complex.
With this weekend’s games rained out, coach Casey Dickson said she has to look toward the team’s final nine games to remain confident that the Owls will secure a spot in the tournament. That stretch begins today at Rider.
“It’s great to be in this position. [It’s my] first year with the program and [we’re] in the running for the conference title,” Dickson said. “As long as we do what we’ve been doing, we’re going to do good.”
Junior first baseman Adrienne Repsher was a freshman when the team won the A-10 Championship in 2004. Repsher said she feels this year’s team can repeat its success from two seasons ago.
“My freshman year, I think we played way above our expectations,” Repsher said. “Last season was really disappointing. We thought we had the core of our team coming back, but we couldn’t put an A-10 win [streak] together. But with the new coaches and great players on our team, I’m pretty hopeful that we’ll be right back where we were my freshman year.”
Dickson said the Owls have been playing up to her expectations all season. She expects success from the team as the regular season comes to an end in the next two weeks.
“The team has been hitting very good lately,” Dickson said. “If you look at home runs, [freshman infielder] Danielle Fagan is producing. Finally, Adrienne Repsher is out of her slump. I think she’s 2-for-3, or 2-for-4 most of the games, which is really expected out of Adrienne because she is one of the leaders mentally and physically for our team.
“And [junior infielder] Jessica Rohn is still being consistent. I can’t ask for much more.”
Of the Owls’ nine remaining games, six are against A-10 opponents Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Charlotte.
Repsher said the Owls should beat the Hawks and the Explorers easily. The two teams are currently at the bottom of the A-10 standings. The 49ers are ranked third.
“We’d like to move up in the standings and we have some teams that we think we should beat for the rest of the season,” Repsher said. “As [the season] comes to an end, we’re going to peak at the right time. We keep moving up. I think we’re really turning things in the right direction right when we need to.”
Dickson said that she is very happy with the softball program she has inherited this year, despite losing five of the original 17 players on the Owls’ roster to begin the year. Of the 12 players left, the Owls are only expecting to lose one player following this season – senior Lauren Evans.
With 11 players expected to return, as well as the addition of a few more key players via the signing of National Letters of Intent and transfers, Dickson said she has even greater expectations for next year’s squad.
That is, of course, if the Owls don’t win the A-10 tournament this season.
“We have signed two very talented pitchers. That’s going to add to our program,” Dickson said. “With what we have now and adding a little bit more speed to the team, this program will definitely change in the years to come.”
Melissa DiPento can be reached at email@example.com.