In the team’s first competition of the season, Cornell softball had a rough weekend in Deland, Fla. The Red went 1-4 in the tournament, securing its first and only win over Bethune-Cookman. While still early, it was not an ideal weekend for a team that was looking to make a statement in the South.
“We faced some good teams this weekend who have been playing games for about a month now,” said sophomore catcher Olivia Lam. “It was pretty evident during the games that these were our first games of the season.”
But while a hard schedule may not reflect well in the standings, Lam pointed out the positives it can have on team development going forward.
“The tough competition really helped us figure out what aspects of the game we need to focus on in the upcoming weeks of practice,” she added. “While we may not have won many games this weekend, I think we have a lot of potential to do well this season if we continue to work on our weaknesses.”
The team was a little rusty competing against teams who were already well into their respective seasons. Nerves were clearly in the air, leading to many challenges for the team.
“When we first arrived at the field on Friday, I did have a few jitters,” said freshman infielder Bridgette Rooney, who experienced her first collegiate action down south. “l was a little nervous about facing live pitching, but as we went into our warm ups, I got into a rhythm and felt more confident in myself. It also doesn’t hurt that I get to play with a great group of girls, so that was also a confidence booster.”
Despite dropping the first two games of the weekend, Cornell dominated Bethune-Cookman, 9-2, for its first win of the season.
Head coach Julie Farlow ’97 credits the team’s first victory to the solid pitching performance by freshman Lisa Nelson. That, along with standout play from Lam and junior catcher Tori Togashi, enabled the Red to put one up in the win column.
“Lisa pounded the strike zone. She threw first pitch strikes to 72 percent of their batters so she was ahead in the count. In our four losses, that number hovered around 45-50 percent,” Farlow said.
The team was not as fortunate in the final two games though, dropping both by a combined score of 29-9.
“The competition overall was challenging, mainly because the teams we played already had 15 or so games under their belts,” Rooney said. “This weekend was our first time playing games since the fall, so it was definitely a jump going from practicing inside to playing out in the sun against already experienced teams.”
After a short break, the team hits the road once again for the Mason Cherry Blossom Classic in Fairfax, Va., this weekend. There, the Red will compete against the Akron and George Mason in a two-day event. The group is focused on cleaning up its mistakes and being more cohesive as a group.
“Going into this weekend, I’m hoping that we all just become a little more comfortable with each other as well as [with] the pace of gameplay,” Lam added. “This week in practice I hope that we can improve upon some of our weaknesses that became evident this weekend and continue to become more comfortable with each other.”
Farlow also has some specific adjustments she would like to see from her pitchers.
“I’d like to see our pitchers have better consistency with their change-ups. It’s a pitch we need to throw more often, especially as batters get adjusted to our speed and movement,” Farlow said.
Action gets underway Saturday at 11 a.m. against Akron.