The softball team is geared up for the Cherry Blossom Classic next week, which will last nearly the entirety of spring break, from Mar. 17 to 23. The tournament includes four games on Mar. 17 and 18 in Fairfax, Va., two games on March 20 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va, two games on March 22 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va and two games against Delaware State University in Dover, Del. on the Mar. 23. The Red will compete against Bowling Green State University, the University of Albany, and other teams to be determined based on the outcome of other games. “This spring trip will provide us with an opportunity to get our feet on the ground and prepare for the Ivy League competitions,” said head coach Dick Blood. According to Blood, the Red understands the challenging competition it will face when playing Virginia Tech and Liberty University at the Cherry Blossom Classic next week. The Red (4-4) is batting .225 as a team. The team defeated Hartford on Sunday, 6-3, and beat them the previous day, 8-2. According to Blood, this season has been challenging due to the amount of practice the other teams have had. “The other participating teams have been preparing for a month, so it’s been a challenge for us,” Blood said. Blood noted that the Red has struggled at the plate of late. He said that the team needs to slow down the game to get ready for competitions, especially with defense.“We’ve struggled at the plate and our defense is inconsistent,” he said. “One of the things we need to do is get better at all aspects of the game – better offense, better defense, and pitching needs to improve as well.”Blood expects several players to rise up this coming week. Senior third baseman Erin Keene is expected to continue her successful senior campaign. During her junior year, Keene led the infield at shortstop. Offensively, she scored 23 times and hit two home runs. She batted.253 on the season with seven doubles and 20 RBIs. “[Erin] has been playing very solid softball,” Blood said. “It’s been a good boost for us. I expect her to play at this pattern next week.”Blood also expressed high expectations from sophomore second baseman Jenny Edwards. Edwards had a strong first season for the Red, hitting five home runs and scoring 27 runs. She had a .960 fielding percentage at second base. “Jenny is very, very solid, and I expect that she’ll grow this year and become an even more seasoned player,” Blood said.Suggesting the phenomena of combining two players, Blood said that senior Morgan Cawley has shone defensively and sophomore Christina Villalon has been a force on offense. Villalon batted .295 as a freshman with five doubles, 18 RBIs and 14 runs.“Together, they make a pretty nice player.” said Blood. Though the team has struggled as of late, Blood pointed out several aspects of its game that the Red has improved on over the course of a season.“The outfield has definitely improved over the last year,” he said. “Our pitchers are doing a pretty solid job and they’ve been working hard at their game.”Following the Cherry Bottom Classic, the team will play in an Epilepsy awareness tournament at Delaware State University. Just one week later, Ivy League play begins.
Original Author: Tina Ahmadi