Friday, April 10, 2015 – University of Massachusetts / Amherst, Massachusetts
Last week, for the first time during softball season since I started this blog at the beginning of 2014, I failed to produce a written entry that either previewed or recapped what my teammates and I were experiencing along our season’s journey. My decision not to write last week wasn’t because I had too much homework or because I got preoccupied with other things in my life. Rather, it was because not even the words that I often look to for solace and escape could save me from what I was feeling following an Easter weekend that saw us drop two of our three games against Dayton in harrowing fashion.
During what has been an up-and-down season, things looked as promising as they have all year for us before we took the field at Fordham last Saturday. Following a convincing two-game sweep over LaSalle the weekend before, and a solid victory over Dayton on Friday in the first game of our three-game series, none of us expected to drop back-to-back games and get outscored 13-1 on our home field on the day before Easter.
Going into the games on Saturday, we had expected to win and protect our house. But, from the time the umpire signaled for the first pitch to be thrown, we inexplicably looked and played like shells of ourselves. We played embarrassing softball on our home field that day, and fourteen innings later, the scores of both games certainly reflected the collective lull that we could not snap out of in the third base dugout at Bahoshy Field.
Upon reflection, however, it is clear that our first mistake of that day was that, by and large, we came to the field expecting to simply show up and win. We fell into the trap of thinking things would be easy on Saturday just because we had played well on Friday and won our first game of the series handily. Nonetheless, we were quickly reminded by the Flyers that we need to do a whole lot more than just show up to win in this league.
Sometimes, I think we tend to forget that winning is no easy feat. We learned last weekend, though, that just because it has happened in the past, doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to happen in the present or the future. Plus, as the two-time defending conference champions, everyone in the A10 circles our name on their calendars. And this year, not only is a proverbial target on our backs, but it is also the size of a billboard and has flashing lights on it. We have too often failed to remember this.
But, thanks to Dayton, we won’t forget it going forward. Throughout this past week since our Dayton series, it has been reiterated to us by our coaches that we absolutely have to come to the field ready for battle if we even have a chance at winning. Or else, any team in this league is capable of exploiting our complacency and taking it to us. Trust me, we’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
Now, as I sit in my hotel room awaiting the start of our series against UMass tomorrow, I find solace in the words that evaded me last weekend. I know that we have learned from our letup against Dayton, and now have a fresh understanding that a target exists on our backs. It’s up to us to earn the victories we desire and protect the championship that is ours because absolutely nothing will be given to us.
Starting this weekend, it’s time to not only show up for battle, but also to win the fight.