NCAA Division III regulations give varsity sports 16 days of off-season practice. Compared to the vast amount of work put into the regular season, that is not much time, but every year, teams somehow manage to pack a lot of growth into less than three weeks of training.
For the University of Dallas softball team, its 16 days in the month of October were dedicated to conditioning and team building. With 11 freshmen on a 21-player roster, the Lady Crusaders focused their time on integrating the brand new faces that now comprise over half of their team.
“The fall season was very productive,” senior outfielder Lyda Tesauro said. “We put in a lot of work in the weight room and on the field. Conditioning was definitely stressed and practices were aimed to build unity. Since we are a fairly young team, we spent most of our time getting to know each other and learning to work together to achieve our team goals – one of them being winning the conference tournament in the spring.”
Their high hopes were put to an early test with a fall ball doubleheader against Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU), and a friendly match-up with UD alumni at Alumni and Family Weekend.
Although they dropped both contests against SAGU – the first 3-13 and the second 3-6 – Tesauro said the team took a lot of good things away from the experience.
“Our fall games against the alumni and SAGU showed us that we have very talented players, but we are not yet comfortable with each other to perform well as a unit,” Tesauro said. “The good news is that we have some time to work on fundamentals before we start playing games.”
One of the fundamentals Tesauro hopes the team can improve in the off-season is hitting. The Crusaders were outhit 6-18 in the first game and 4-9 in the second. The smaller differential in game two, however, was one of many reasons Tesauro has high hopes for the coming spring.
“Despite our losses, I am proud of our team as a whole and truly believe that we have the opportunity to do something great,” Tesauro said. “I look forward to working with this amazing group of girls and can’t wait for a championship ring by spring.”
As one of five seniors who have been with the program for three years, turned it from losing to winning seasons, and helped it place higher in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) than ever before, Tesauro is eager to make their final season one to remember.
“Knowing that our blood, sweat and tears helped build a championship team makes our sacrifices … worth it,” Tesauro said. “To say that we left that kind of legacy would be a dream come true for any athlete, especially with all the obstacles we have had to overcome.”
At press time, fourth-year head coach Elizabeth Krysiak could not be reached for comment.
The Lady Crusaders will begin their regular season in early February 2017 with a four-game homestand.