A Bittersweet Softball Symphony

Monday, April 21, 2014 – St. Louis University & University of Massachusetts / Bronx, NY

The team after the senior day ceremony.

The team poses after the senior day ceremony. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Amid the 60-game schedule, the practices and workouts, the seemingly endless travel, and everything else that comes with being a Division 1 athlete, I sometimes forget that life won’t always be the way that it is right now, and mostly, that it won’t be forever spent with my teammates. This was poignantly brought to my attention during our senior day ceremony on Saturday. When our seniors (Elise, Gabby, Tina, and Bri) were honored on Bahoshy Field between games of our doubleheader against UMass, I got significantly more emotional than I anticipated getting. I have never been one to handle endings very well, and it certainly showed on Saturday. I cried for the loss of four people who have been staples in my life as a Fordham Softball player, for the end of their almost lifelong softball careers, and at the realization that my time is also nearing, as I and my five other softball classmates are next in line to take the emotional walk across Bahoshy Field on senior day.

Saturday was bittersweet. For all the sadness it brought me, it also reminded me about just how amazing it is that we not only get to travel the country and represent our university while playing the game we love at the highest level, but we are also afforded the opportunity to form incredible relationships with people along the way. People who were strangers to me just a few years ago have become, and will remain, some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. No matter where our lives take us long after the last out is made in our softball careers, we will forever be bonded by Fordham Softball. This, I believe, is the most beautiful thing about college sports.

The second most beautiful thing about college sports, I believe, is when a team is in sync and firing on all cylinders. That, I know from experience, is a thing of beauty to witness and be part of.

Elise and me during an emotional senior day ceremony.

Elise and me during an emotional senior day ceremony. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

We are in that place right now. Things continued to click for us this past week, as we extended our winning streak to 11 games, and 17 wins in 18 tries. After playing #24 LSU to a 3-3 tie on Tuesday before the game was called due to rain in the fourth inning, we rolled to sweeps of both St. Louis and UMass, two formidable Atlantic 10 opponents. Once again, we displayed resilience and fight, as we came from behind in both series and demonstrated some late-inning heroics to secure our spot atop the conference for yet another week.

As we enter the final stretch of our season, with just six regular season games remaining, we are focused on our collective mission to win another championship and get back to the promised land of the NCAA tournament. Although senior day served as a sad reminder that very few things are permanent in college athletics, it helped me realize that the most important things last forever: the friendships and championships. With the friendships firmly established and in place, I hope more than anything that we can send our seniors out with a championship that will both solidify their legacies, and make the end of their softball careers less bitter and more sweet.

The Comeback Kids with an Emerging “It” Factor

Monday, April 14, 2014 – University of Rhode Island & Binghamton University / Bronx, NY

More than a month ago, before the start of the USF Series, I wrote about how I thought we were on the cusp of a “coming out” weekend after having experienced the toughest tests of our season in Palm Springs and Orlando. The type of weekend I anticipated us having then was one that served as a true display of offensive prowess; One in which we would puff out our chests, knock some balls out of the park, and approach the game with an attitude and a swagger that would make us intimidating to opponents.

Needless to say, I was a bit premature with my estimation, as this type of collective performance did not occur until this past weekend against Binghamton University. But boy, was it worth the wait!

Team dinner at Elise's house before the URI series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Team dinner at Elise’s house before the URI series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

After sweeping Rhode Island on Saturday, we returned home to Bahoshy Field to take on the hard-hitting (emphasis on the word “hard”) Bearcats in a doubleheader. After falling behind in the early goings of both games, we battled back and displayed one of our best offensive performances in recent memory in front of our home crowd. We recorded 23 hits and seven home runs (including three from Gabby and two from Elise) on the day, as we defeated Binghamton 10-7 and 10-9 in the twin bill.

Things have really been coming together nicely for us. From top to bottom, we are mashing, pitching well, playing great defense, and most importantly, showing heart, fight, and desire each and every time we step in-between the white lines. We have found our identity: we are the reigning A10 Champion Fordham Rams, the other Bronx Bombers, who play with fire and intensity, and can comeback from any deficit. We have proven this time and time again over the past few weeks. I believe we are beginning to display an “it” factor; the intangible competitive quality that is a combination of confidence and fire, which separates the champions from the rest.

Of course there are still improvements to be made and work to be done, as we still have more than ten games remaining before the tournament, but we are currently playing the best we have all season. We’ve won 13 out of our last 14 games since playing at UVA during spring break. Over that time, we have improved our record to 25-16 and currently stand atop the A10 standings with a conference record of 5-1.

Tomorrow, barring a rainout, we are scheduled to play nationally-ranked LSU. It will be the first time we have played a ranked opponent at home since Alabama, the eventual National Champions, rolled up to Bahoshy in 2012, only to be sent back to SEC country with their last loss of that season. We are in the best position we have been in all year to take on an opponent like the Tigers.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, we are making a very good case to repeat as A10 Champions in less than a month. If we continue to play like we have been, with that intensity, comeback mentality, and aforementioned “it” factor we have shown, the happiest of times will surely be ahead of us in mid-May.