Coming off of a losing 2017 season that saw the team finish at the bottom of its division, Cornell softball was picked to finish last in the Ivy League preseason poll. But head coach Julie Farlow ’97 said the Red is ready to defy expectations.
“Being surrounded by these players everyday, I do think we’re capable of finishing much better than [last season],” Farlow said.
Since her promotion to head coach in 2016, Farlow has doubled the Red’s league wins and earned a reputation for drafting high-caliber recruiting classes.
This year’s sophomore class includes pitcher Lisa Nelson, the team’s strikeout leader, and infielder Bridgette Rooney, the 2017 Ivy League home run leader. The team’s newest freshmen are ready to make an impact, too.
“[The freshmen] did great in our fall season,” Nelson said. “I’m really excited to see what they do for us.”
The Red’s rookie class features Katie Hale, a two time all-state performer from Florida, and Hillary Dole, a 2016 Big East champion, along with three other accomplished players.
“You’ll see them in some innings starting,” Farlow said. “Youth is always exciting and can give a new look, and then pairing that with the experience of players who have been around gives some stability.”
Among those experienced players is Tori Togashi, a senior catcher. In the last two years, Togashi has had a perfect fielding percentage. She said that after graduating only two seniors last year, the Red is prime for improvements.
“We have a strong core returning from last year’s team, which makes the chemistry come along a little bit easier,” Togashi said. “And the freshmen have fit in well with the plan our coach has going forward. We have all been pushing each other to be better than we were last year.”
While the fall season and winter practices shed some light on where to best position players, the Red likely has more factors to work on as the season gets underway.
“There are some questions that can only be answered with game experience,” Farlow said.
The Red will begin answering these questions this weekend at the Hatter Classic in Deland, Florida, where it will play five games over three days. Cornell will look to level the playing field with their opponents, who will each have already played least six games.
“Opening weekend is always a bit tough for any Ivy League school having to come in and play teams that have … games under their belt,” Togashi said. “But we are prepared and look forward to hit the ground running.”
Though the Red has not achieved a winning season since 2012, the desire for success in nonetheless apparent in the clubhouse.
“We want to win,” Nelson said.