Friday, April 17, 2015 – St. Bonaventure University / Olean, New York
We play a crazy game. One in which a team can get clobbered one game and then walk off the field as winners two hours later against the same team in stunning, come-from-behind fashion. One that allows a streaking squad with a losing record to sneak into a conference tournament as the dark horse and have an opportunity to advance to the NCAA’s big dance. One that sees a player struggling at the plate for a few games, only to wake up one day and inexplicably catch fire. Ours is the craziest of games, one could argue.
And on this team, in this conference, at this juncture in the season, the craziness is quite often on full display. More than in each of my previous three seasons, the league is wide open this year and the conference championship is pretty much any team’s for the taking. Besides maybe one or two teams at the bottom of the standings, there isn’t much of a disparity between the squads in the Atlantic 10 this season, making things equally as exciting and unknown for the upcoming conference tournament in a few weeks.
In the midst of all the unpredictability, however, it’s often hard for teams and players to get on a roll, and harder yet, to stay rolling. The inevitable ups and downs of a long season can be disheartening, and oftentimes derailing, but they’re all just part of the process, and ultimately, what you sign up for as a college softball player.
A midweek conference tilt against St. Bonaventure this past week produced lopsided results similar to the ones I alluded to above. Following a seven-hour bus ride up to Olean, New York, we Rams eased through game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader and won 10-2, while extending our winning streak to five games. Game two, however, summed up the baffling nature of our sport quite perfectly. As the heavily favored team in the contest, we sat on a 1-0 lead for most of the quickly moving game, despite outhitting our opponents and driving multiple balls to the warning track through six innings. The home half of the sixth saw the wheels start to fall off for us, however, and thus, that hot, foreshadowing feeling of impending disaster on the softball diamond began to set in. Sure enough, the upstart Bonnies rode the momentum all the way to a walk-off victory in the bottom of the seventh inning, once again showing that the favored team doesn’t always win in softball.
The loss to St. Bonaventure was certainly frustrating, as all losses are, but I think we quickly came to terms with it and realized that it is just the nature of the unpredictable game we play. It’s important to just keep on keeping on, especially at this critical point in the season when each game matters for tournament seeding.
In order to survive the ups and downs of college softball, and not become derailed by them, sometimes you just have to toss things up to the unpredictable nature of our sport. In this game, you have to roll with the punches and know that it is only a matter of time before the craziness swings back into your favor again. And ultimately, it is in trusting that your team will bounce back and be the one walking off the field as the inexplicable winner that will get you through the thicket.