As spring training gets underway for MLB teams, the Yale softball team will make its own spring training trip to Florida to take on tough competition as part of the USF Under Armour Tournament before coming home for the Yale Invitational.
The Bulldogs (1–2, 0–0 Ivy) will spend the first week of spring break in Florida, facing eight different opponents in the span of nine games. Catcher Sarah Onorato ’15 believes the trip to Clearwater, Fla. is an excellent opportunity for the Elis to face stiff competition, including the University of South Florida and other top-tier teams, which will set them up for success come conference play.
Yale will look to improve upon its first weekend of competition, during which the team went 1–2 at the Norfolk State Tournament in Virginia from Feb. 22-23. The Elis certainly have the tools to succeed as they out hit each of their three opponents throughout the tournament.
“In Virginia Beach last weekend, we showed that we have all of the pieces, but weren’t able to combine them in one game,” Onorato said. “I think in order to do this, we need to play relaxed and confidently, maintain good energy and execute in the little situations — sac bunts, moving runners, quality at bats, taking care of the ball on defense, hitting spots on the mound — that will cumulatively make us very competitive.”
Pitcher Rhydian Glass ’16 agreed, noting that the little things are what make a huge difference in softball. She added that the team needs to focus not only on targeting the lead runner or timing a steal, but also on starting the competitive season with motivation and trust in each other.
Both players hope to see the team come out of its spring training trip on a high note and with a winning record.
“Winning is always a priority every time we step on the field,” Onorato said. “Beyond that, though, I think we hope to get some good looks against some tough pitching, and to get our defense used to playing on dirt again. We want to compete every time out, and Florida is a good chance to work out any last kinks before league games.”
Glass noted that the team has trained incredibly hard since the fall, especially since the official start of the season on Feb. 1. She credits the captain, outfielder Tori Balta ’14, with establishing a “desire-to-win mentality” and for keeping the team focused on and off the field.
Yale carries high hopes heading into spring break, citing the depth and diverse range of talent on the team.
“Virginia was a decent start, but I know we have a lot more in us,” Glass said. “If we play like we are capable of performing we’ll no doubt make an impact down in Florida that will hopefully carry through for the rest of the season.”
The Elis will head down south to Florida on Saturday to prepare for its first games against Central Florida and South Florida, both at South Florida, on Tuesday at 2:00 and 7:15 p.m., respectively. After the USF Under Armour Tournament, the Bulldogs return home to face Providence, and then Bryant and Boston University as part of the Yale Invitational. Conference play will open the following week at Penn, the defending Ivy League champions.