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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

Next at Bat: Softball gets ready for conference play

Graduate student infielder Taylor Marinelli swipes the bag in a practice drill. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s softball team hopes to overcome a sluggish start to the preseason as they ready to begin regular season play on March 12.

The team went 4-10 in the preseason, having competitive matchups with Marshall University and Georgia Institute of Technology. Their biggest struggle was trying to come back late in the game after allowing the other teams to score first, according to junior infielder Jessica Gaughan.

“When we don’t start off strong, we just continue that mentality,” Gaughan said. “Then the seventh comes in, we’re like, ‘okay, we have nothing to lose. Let’s just fight.’”

Head Coach Erin Brooks, who is starting her sixth season with the team, said the team needs to learn from its losses and grow from victories to reach their potential. To form a winning culture, she said she focuses on what each player needs on and off the field, and how they can contribute to the team as a whole.

“It’s a journey, and that’s why we constantly talked about that mentality,” Brooks said. “What do you learn from every loss? What do you learn from every win? That’s where your mindset needs to be.” 

Junior infielder Jessica Gaughan dives to make a stop during practice on March 4.

Graduate student infielder Taylor Marinelli said since the beginning of her tenure at St. Joe’s, the team has been focused on creating and maintaining a winning culture. 

“The winning culture for us is definitely being supportive of one another, and that’s something we have definitely done very well and grown from,” Marinelli said.

Despite their losses, playing against elite teams during preseason was beneficial because it allowed team members to

improve their communication and teamwork skills, which are critical to their success, Gaughan said.

“This year we decided trust and respect are our two main core values,” Gaughan said. “And that equals good communication. With communication comes chemistry on and off the field. So off the field,

it’s making good  relationships, just getting to know one another. And then on the field, it’s cheering on our teammates, whether you’re in or out of the game.”

Marinelli has posted a .308 batting average so far this season.

Gaughan said everyone on the team is capable of stepping up to the plate, even the newest players. Infielder Kayla Tauber and pitcher Kaelin Cash, two first-year players, recently earned Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Week honors.

“They’re already making strides as a freshman, which is really cool to see,” Gaughan said. 

So far, the team’s defense has been its strongest asset. Next up is working on

offense, raising the team’s overall batting average and increasing their situational and clutch hitting, Brooks said. That also means more run opportunities and consistent performance against every team match-up.

“Every aspect has helped us, but every aspect of our game has also failed at some point,” Brooks said.

Marinelli said getting more runs is just one part of the equation.

“We call it being scrappy,” Marinelli said. “That has to be a team win for us, just being supportive whether you’re that person on the field producing those runs or producing that defense or you’re on the bench and you’re doing your part picking each other up.” 

The team’s opening game is at noon on March 12 against George Washington University at SJU Softball field. 

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