EU Softball starts strong

Eastern’s softball team kicked off the 2012 season in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, over spring break. The team participated in the Snowbird Softball Tournament, which consists of eight games against opponents from NCAA Division III and NAIA.

“At the start of the week, we each had our own individual goals in mind, but by the end of the week we realized how much more we can accomplish as a team,” senior Jaclyn Gangemi said. “We grew together not only athletically, but spiritually.”

EU finished the week with a 6-2 record.

“While we didn’t come back undefeated, we came back a team prepared to be relentless even when we’re facing defeat,” senior Louise Fox said.

The team also worked with Coastal Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter for women and children in the Myrtle Beach area.

“It was great to give back and help these young women,” senior Maggie McGowan said.

Coastal Rescue Mission helps feed 400 families every month, and EU’s softball team was willing to help the Mission in this noble work.

“It was a very humbling experience for our team,” Gangemi said.

Although games can he hard and defeat can be harder, the members of the softball team supported each other and kept their heads up.

“By the end of the day we still had smiles on our faces,’ McGowan said. “Every person on our team is a key contributor in a different way, whether it is cheering on their teammates from the bench or making that diving catch to save the game. Our team is going to make a difference this year!”

The players really grew together during night devotions.

“These were so helpful in learning about ourselves and our teammates on and off the field,” senior Samantha Terenzoni said.

“‘Together as one’ is a very true statement this year. We are truly a team,” senior Jaime Schwartz said.

Coach Stroop explains that the main purpose of the trip was to build team chemistry and prepare physically and mentally for conference games.

“No matter how much a person plays or who has the best stats, we just want each other to play the best [that we] can,” Gangemi said. “We genuinely care about each other, which makes for a better team on and off the field.”

Seniors Fox, Terenzoni, McGowan, Gangemi and Schwartz, along with junior pitcher and first baseman Janelle Fair, are anticipated to be the key players for the upcoming season.

Coach Stroop has high expectations for the team’s competitiveness: “The key to our success this year will be competing for a full seven innings every game. . . . We need to have a hunger to finish games.”

The team’s main goal is to qualify for the conference tournament. To achieve this, the players will need to seize every opportunity that arises within a game to win.

“We have so many talented new players as well as returnees that have already made an impact on the team, and I believe if we all work together and give it our all we will definitely be a team with a championship,” McGowan said.

Lori Sippel, head softball coach at the University of Nebraska, once said, “As the years roll by and the scoreboard fades, it is the people, the friendships and love shared, the remembrance of the journey, that will glow ever-brighter.”

Coach Stroop holds to Sippel’s motto: “I think this quote sums up what I want my players to learn. Winning and losing games definitely matters in the moment, however it is the relationships that have been built with teammates and coaches that will be remembered forever.”

Stroop believes that, years down the road, players might not remember what their career batting average was or how many batters they struck out, but they will remember the people with whom they shared their athletic journey.

Three years ago, just a few days into preseason, Coach Mark Ambler passed away. Fox recalls, “The night before, he told us his goal was to make playoffs. It has been a heck of a ride since then, but as the last class that played under Coach Ambler, there is no time like the present to fulfill his dream.”

“We have had a tough couple of years, but this year is looking brighter than ever before,” Terenzoni said.

The team’s first home game will take place on March 15 against Haverford College.

“EU softball has an amazing amount of potential this season. . . . It will be exciting to see what we can accomplish,” Gangemi said.

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