Despite coming off a 10-36 season and a last-place finish in the Ivy League, Cornell softball feels optimistic about the new season.
Head coach Julie Farlow ’97 believes that the eight sophomores on the roster will be critical to the team’s success.
“[The sophomores] bring a lot of experience, both offensively and defensively,” Farlow said. “The league knows them because they’ve played so much, so they have to adjust a little bit. But certainly, the amount of innings and at-bats they had last year is benefitting them going into this year.”
The team will also benefit from the addition of five freshmen, who Farlow expects to contribute right away. Mia Burd and Gabrielle Maday, who together make up half of the team’s pitching rotation, will be expected to eat innings throughout the year.
Farlow expects Maicie Levitt to serve as a reliable defensive shortstop while contributing offensively. Celia Macari will see innings behind the plate, while Julie Hilcken will fit in as a utility infielder.
“They bring a lot of energy — they’ll help us both offensively and defensively, and … they’re contributing right away,” Farlow said of the group. “They’re a very relaxed, calm group when they’re playing, so that’s nice to see. I think they’re confident, they’re composed and they look like they enjoy playing … They don’t look overwhelmed.”
Farlow also hopes that the sophomore class’ experience will allow them to serve as mentors to the team’s five freshmen.
“[The sophomores’] experience is allowing them to help that freshman class with a lot of advice,” said Farlow. “I think last year [the sophomores] were very focused on getting themselves settled and trying to figure things out. Now they have it figured out and they can share that knowledge with other players.”
Cornell’s confidence was on full display at its season-opening tournament in Florida over February break. In stark contrast to its slow start last season — when it lost seven straight games to start the year — the team picked up two wins in its first five games, including the season-opener.
“It felt really good to win the first game,” Farlow said. “I think last year we went down to Florida with our heads spinning a bit and this year we felt much more confident, much more settled.”
Despite having this confidence, the Red was ranked last in the Ivy League preseason poll.
“The poll is what it is … We try to just focus on ourselves,” Farlow said. “I always like to have high expectations, and our kids are working really hard, so I think achieving those expectations is a realistic thing. If we stay true to ourselves and pitch the ball well and be aggressive on offense and play solid defense, I think we can compete with every team in the league and have a successful year.”
Cornell has March 21 — the day Ivy League play begins — circled on its calendar. Until then, the team will use its upcoming non-conference tournaments as opportunities to improve.
“These are all perfect opportunities … to get ourselves sharp for the Ivy season,” Farlow said.
The first of those opportunities will come on Friday at 5:30 p.m. as the Red squares off against Buffalo for the first of four games at the George Mason Invitational in Fairfax, Va.