Softball team maintains victory streak

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By Reese Wang, Design Editor

“My goal is to hit my spots,” junior pitcher Lauren Lofland says.

Around her, the rest of the team stands in a circle, sipping their water bottles before the game. Like every other home game, without fail, the team gathers by “the tree,” a massive tree that provides shade over the left field line of D’Ambrosio Park, each girl naming a personal and team goal.

The team set two goals this season: winning the Central League and qualifying for states. With their eyes on the prize, the girls varsity softball team ended the regular season with the best record in the Central League, winning the Central League title for the first time since 2007. Setting a streak of 13 wins until their first loss to Garnet Valley in May, the team placed in the top six of the district to qualify for states in May.  

Last year, the team missed qualifying for states by one game, which they attribute as a factor in their motivation this season.  

In preparation for the new season, the team held open preseason workouts starting in January. To make up for the graduation of several good hitters, the team completed hitting drills. The girls also worked on hitting their cuts coming in from the outfield, where players from the outfield throw the ball to the infield. Preseason workouts also allowed the team to address its other weakness, communication, by giving the upperclassmen an opportunity to bond with the younger players. 

The seven seniors on the team grew up playing together in Little League, leading to a strong varsity group good at communicating with one another. Whether their future teammates played on the same team or an opposing team, the girls had already seen them play on the field by middle school.

Despite the closeness of the team’s seniors before playing for Conestoga softball, the team had little trouble forming new bonds with the younger players. 

“We have a strong new leadership on the team, and we welcome (the younger players)  with open arms,” senior co-captain Olivia Cepilik said. “That really helped us gain their trust, and now we play together and it’s awesome because we’re all friends. It’s not like we’re just playing with our teammates. It’s like we’re playing with our friends.”

When Lofland entered the softball team as a pitcher, she appreciated the seniors’ welcoming attitude. 

“Since I was a freshman, I didn’t really get the world of high school softball. So (Emily Rycyzyn) kind of showed me it. She always supported me and gave me positive feedback,” Lofland said. 

According to Rycyzyn, a senior member of the team, success comes from three factors: pitching, defense and hitting. The opposing teams had very little runs, thanks to Lofland’s pitching. The team’s countless repetitions of infielding drills allowed defense to perform smart plays that also kept the score low. Hitting drills from preseason and regular season practices paid off, increasing team morale and adding to the team’s success. 

With a combination of skills and high energy, the team qualified for states.   

“When everyone is hitting up and down the line, everyone wants to do well in the field and wants to keep the lead,” Rycyzyn said. “If we just keep our bats going into the playoffs, then there’s really nothing that can stop us.”