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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Softball team fights through challenges of a pandemic-ridden season

The Hawks are currently undefeated in A-10 league play with a record of 4-0. PHOTO: LUKAS VAN SANT ’21/THE HAWK

The St. Joe’s softball team has had an unpredictable season amid canceled and postponed matchups due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the team is still near the top of the Atlantic 10 (A-10) standings.

This team’s 2021 season record currently sits at 10-8, with 13 additional contests either canceled or postponed so far this year. Their last game on March 25 resulted in a 6-2 victory over Drexel University.

Senior outfielder Kirstin Cox said she is excited to be able to play this year after the cancellation of last year’s season due to the pandemic.

“We just try and remind each other that last year at this time we weren’t even playing, so it helps to sit back and just be happy that we are at least playing this year,” Cox said. 

COVID-19 restrictions have still made for some challenges. Before the weather warmed and the team could practice outside together, they practiced in pods. Freshmen were grouped in one pod, on-campus students in a second and off-campus students in a third. Even when they are not practicing, graduate student shortstop Molly Kapala said they try to stay in their pods as much as possible.

“We still need to make sure that we are socially distancing and staying in our respective pods outside of training, but being back with the whole team outside definitely feels good,” Kapala said. 

The entire team also meets up on Zoom, which Kapala said is good for “team chemistry.”

Head Coach Erin Brooks said the pandemic creates a lot of uncertainty for the team.

“There are a lot of unknowns this season,” Brooks said. “For example, you just don’t know when you are going to have some kids quarantine and be unable to play because of COVID.”

Cox said those unknowns can make it hard for players to stay motivated. 

“We know this season is not normal and people can be placed into quarantine out of nowhere,” Cox said.

 Part of the “not normal” of the 2021 season is also the new conference format, with the A-10 being split up into two, five-team pods instead of the normal 10 teams. 

St. Joe’s grouping includes La Salle University, Fordham University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island. The other half includes Saint Louis University, George Washington University, George Mason University, University of Dayton and St. Bonaventure University. Instead of the A-10 Championship’s normal six-team, double-elimination tournament, the top two teams from each pod will move onto a four-team, double-elimination tournament.

“In a perfect world, we should still be one of the top two teams coming out of our pod,” Brooks said.

The team currently sits at second in their pod. Brooks said the team is focusing on what it can control: practicing to get better. That is the same focus they would have any year, she said. 

As Head Coach, Brooks said she tries to serve as a role model for the players.

“You can only do so much as a coach, but the message is clear,” Brooks said. “Masking, social distancing and being responsible is brought up consistently. Besides reminding them, I have to show them.”

The Hawks next scheduled matchup is on April 3, a double header against Big 5 rival University of Pennsylvania.


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