2015 Fordham Softball – Week 13 / Showing Up For Battle and Winning the Fight

Friday, April 10, 2015 – University of Massachusetts / Amherst, Massachusetts

Our 2014 A10 championship team got honored at Yankee Stadium  this week. A surreal experience for Yankees fans and non-fans alike. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Our 2014 A10 championship team got honored at Yankee Stadium this week. A surreal experience for Yankees fans and non-fans alike. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

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. 

 

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Lifting the Anchor for the Final Leg of the Journey

Monday, May 5, 2014 – University of Dayton / Dayton, OH

Team picture at the annual Block F student-athlete banquet before we left for the Dayton series.

Team picture at the annual Block F student-athlete banquet before we left for the Dayton series. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

For the first time in four weeks, we Rams lost a softball game. Two games, in fact. One 5am departure from campus and a connecting flight later, we arrived in Dayton, Ohio on Friday to play our final series of the regular season. Dayton had everything to play for; not only was it their senior day, but it was also their last opportunity to make the Atlantic 10 tournament. They were a bubble team who needed to at least split with us in order to book their trip to the Bronx. We, on the other hand, were playing simply for pride, as we had already wrapped up the number one seed in the tournament with our sweep of La Salle the weekend before.

From the early goings of game one on Saturday against Dayton, we knew we were in for a dogfight. They hopped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning before going up 5-1 on us by the third. Each inning thereafter, we chipped away at their lead. Elise finally tied the score at five with a two-run bomb in the sixth inning.

Heading to the eighth, with the score still tied at five, we erupted for four runs and a collective feeling that we had sealed the win. Dayton had other feelings, however, as they answered right back with four runs of their own, forcing the game to continue. Their unthinkable comeback took the wind right out of our sails, as it took everything we had to battle back and finally take the lead, before the ultimate feeling of deflation took effect. Dayton eventually walked off on us in the tenth inning to cap a crazy three-hour game.

The second game, which occurred just 20 minutes after our disappointing loss in game one, was a complete blur for nearly everyone on our sideline. Upon discussion later that night at the airport, we came to the conclusion that we lost the second game in the eighth inning of the first when we relinquished our four-run lead. Our 15-game winning streak had ended, and we were forced to swallow the bitter pill of defeat for the first time in four weeks; a taste we had nearly forgotten.

Me with Michele, our stud pitcher and one of my very best friends, at the Block F banquet. (Courtesy of Tom Wasiczko)

Me with Michele, our stud pitcher and one of my very best friends, at the Block F banquet.

With the loss also came the end of my own personal ribbon-wearing streak. Since our game at Lehigh at the beginning of April, in which we came from behind and won in the final inning, I have been wearing the same red ribbon with blue anchors in my hair for each game we have played. One of our super freshmen and center fielder Sydney gave our team the ribbon to wear that day. Her message behind giving us the anchor ribbon was to use its symbol of hope as a reminder to keep the focus on our goals and prevent us from drifting. She also used it as a metaphor for what it means to be a teammate. The anchor represents the stability and strength that we have in each other.

I loved that. So much, in fact, that I vowed to wear the ribbon until we lost again.

As we set off on our final voyage of the season, we are ready to lift the anchor and embark on what will certainly be our most trying journey yet. Along with the anchor, our hopes are also rising with the possibilities that this upcoming week will bring. It is championship week; the time we have been preparing for since August. Our shortcomings at Dayton, along with the myriad other experiences of our season, will serve as preparation for the rough waters ahead of us in the A10 tournament and hopefully beyond.

The lifting of the anchor has us steadfast in our pursuit of the destination: an Atlantic 10 championship. We are hopeful and excited for what is ahead, and ready to embark on our final journey with an unparalleled zeal and determination. Our ship is built on the stability and strength we have in each other, and I am confident that there is not a stronger or better-prepared ship than ours in the A10 to take on the upcoming storms on the sea.