Last year the team went 3-5 in MWC play, but matching last season’s record may be a challenge for the team as most of the starters will not be returning.
“A lot of those girls we lost were starters, so it’s just going to be different this year than it was before,” said Co-Captain Tess Cohen ’09. “A lot of people are stepping into new positions,”
Aside from the changes on the field, off the field the coaching staff is brand new. The new coach, Sandra Faulkner, currently a coach at Grinnell Community Senior High School, was hired less than a week ago.
“Softball is still softball,” Faulkner said. “But at the college level you are trying to fine tune everything so you can perform at the higher level.”
Despite being at the helm for such a short time, the coach said she believes that the team has been well prepared for this season.
“The assistant coach [Kate Gluckman, the head women’s basketball coach] and the volunteer coach [Craig Arendt] have done a fine job of preparing them to be at the level they need to be at,” Faulkner said. “So I do not feel like the team lost anything from me not being there at the beginning.”
From what the team has experienced so far, they are very excited to play for Coach Faulkner.
“She’s fantastic, we are really excited with the energy and expertise she brings to the game,” said co-captain Darcy Ward ’09. “From the first moment we met her, we were confident in her ability to lead us.
In addition to the new coach, the team has had to contend with numerous injuries that have seriously constricted the team’s options.
“We will have to try and fill the positions the best that we can,” Faulkner said. “We may have to have players maybe play positions they are not used to so they may be outside their comfort zone a little bit.”
The team currently practices in the PEC because of the wintery Iowa weather, which prevents them doing many things they could do outside, such as hit fly balls.
“Right now we have six weeks indoors, that’s when morale is the lowest,” Ward said. “We have managed to be excited, stay focused, and get in shape. Once we start to play teams it will get more fun.
The team will begin their season by going to California to face some tough competition, including ranked teams.
“We have a pretty challenging schedule in California,” Cohen said. “I think it will be good to play against teams that are that good because we will have to push ourselves early on.”
Despite all the team has to contend with, the coach is optimistic of what they can achieve.
“After a couple practices underneath my belt, the girls they come in and work hard,” Faulkner said. “They have done everything I have asked them to do, they are focused and determined.”