by Dylan Bronkema
The University of Tampa women’s softball team represented UT well, and hopes to bring home some hardware from this year’s Sunshine State Conference (SSC) tournament. After winning the second game of their double header on Saturday, Feb. 22 the Spartans have an overall record of 9-5, boasting an impressive in conference record of 4-2.
The team is coming off two huge in conference series wins. The first of the series was against Palm Beach Atlantic, a team that currently sits ahead of UT in the conference standings. After the series against Palm Beach, Tampa went on to take another series, this time against St. Leo. These wins boosted the Spartans to fifth overall in the conference.
After the win on Saturday, Maddie Farrell, a senior catcher for the Spartans said, “The season is off to a great start with the team winning the past two series against PBA and St. Leo.”
Farrell said that the team’s recent success is largely due to the teamwork and communication the team has.
“We have been communicating well with each other and always pushing ourselves to do our best,” said Farrell. “We all mesh well, and I believe this season will be great and we will make the postseason.”
The team is a tight knit group that works well together and really feel that they have a good chance at making a run in the playoffs.
The team this year finds themselves full of young promising talent, that will help them reach their goal of a SSC title.
Bailey Philips, a junior utility player, said, “We have some great newcomers who have stepped up and are helping the team in their own individual ways. Some come up to bat as a DH designated hitter in tight situations and perform well and others have been working hard each and every day trying to get a starting position.”
By fighting for starting positions, the younger Spartan players are putting pressure on the older team members to step up and play their best.
The ultimate goal for the Spartans this year is to win a conference title, something that will not be an easy feat because of well performing teams like Rollins and Embry-Riddle standing in their way. However, before the team looks to the conference championship they need to be focused on making it to the postseason.
Sophomore standout and shortstop Stephanie Balmer spoke out saying the team needs to stop making mistakes late game.
“We sometimes freeze in close situations that could cause us to win or lose a game which we need to work on,” said Balmer.
Farrell also chimed in on this subject saying, “Something we need to work on as a team in our pitch selection. To get to the postseason I think communication on the field and focusing up at the plate will help us get to where we want to be.”
Both players felt it was small late game mistakes that have led to some of the closer losses they have suffered this season. Balmer said, “We need to stay strong and not beat ourselves.” If the team can stay mentally strong late in games, they should find a place in the playoffs this postseason
With tough series coming up against out of conference opponent Davenport, and then coming back to in conference play versus Eckerd the team is hopeful to improve their record and keep climbing in the standings.
Dylan Bronkema can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org