While the rest of the school was keeping themselves warm with Groundhog festivities, the University of Dallas softball team faced a very sobering doubleheader against the Braves of Ottawa University.
Students taking a break from Saturday’s celebrations wandered in and out of the small stadium over the course of the afternoon, but the Lady Crusaders didn’t have the luxury of checking out when things got hairy. They had to fight through innings where they fell 0-5, 0-6 and 0-13, and went home saddled with an 0-2 record to start the season.
“I think we had some communication breakdowns on defense during our opening games,” Head Coach Elizabeth Krysiak said. “The team is shaking off some nerves from being younger and still learning [sic] each other on the field.”
The biggest breakdown came in the top of the fourth inning of their second game. The Crusaders allowed 13 points against them on a combination of runs and pitching errors, despite the substitution of freshman pitcher Lauren Galvan for her senior counterpart, Katie Lee.
UD also struggled offensively, scoring only four times in each game, as opposed to Ottawa’s 14 and 16. Nevertheless, there were some bright spots.
Freshman outfielder Jade Miller made her debut for the Crusaders with three hits, including the team’s first home run of the season, which also counted for an RBI, in game one and stolen bases in both games.
Other freshmen also made an impact on offense in their spring debut. Middle infielder Allie Driskill also posted a run and an RBI in game one, and stolen bases in both games, while pitcher and outfielder Lety Morales scored a pair of RBIs in addition to her first collegiate hit.
“We had some good at bats and just needed to become a little more clutch at the plate, but there were some great things to start off the year on the offensive side,” Krysiak said. “Our pitchers are looking to buckle down in the next month before conference and our defense is getting back to being comfortable making the routine plays.”
Both Krysiak and her players look at their opening games primarily as learning opportunities rather than disappointments.
“Our season opener did not have the outcome we were looking for, but it did have some bright spots,” senior first and third baseman Alexandria Compte, who posted a single at the the plate in game one, said. “It showed us things that we need to work on as well as things that we are doing well. Our team is very young but despite that, our team chemistry was very good this weekend.”
“I am thankful these games exposed some of our weaknesses so we can work on those in the next month before conference,” Krysiak said. “Our goal of getting better every day is something we pride ourselves on, and the girls are now motivated to work harder and push each other more. I am confident the opening games will prove to be a building block moving forward into the rest of [the] season.”
As a senior, Compte has a very personal stake in her last season, but she is not losing sight of her role as a leader for the underclassmen.
“I think I speak for all the seniors when I say we are working hard to win a conference tournament,” Compte said. “Our class has been through a lot together and we are going to show the conference that hard work pays off. We are hoping to lead our huge class of underclassmen to the postseason.”
With that in mind, Compte has two goals for her final season:
“One: make sure I step up in the box. Two: make sure I help my team grow into their individual roles on the team.”
The Crusaders remain at home this weekend for another doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 12 against Hendrix College with games at 12 and 2 p.m.