March 2, 2012

Tales from the Diamond No. 5 - Erica Returns!

WINCHESTER, Va. -  As part of our "Friday Feature" series, it is time for another edition of Tales From the Diamond, the life and times of the SU softball team.

Ed. Note: Regular blogger Erica Kondzielawa returns this week after missing last week with an illness. A thanks again to Erica's classmate, Kaitlin Robinson, for stepping in with last week's entry.

I am 100% healthy and came back to practice this week after having both a stomach virus that's been going around and a mild case of mono. I am lucky to have recovered so quickly and get back out onto the field - like my teammates, I was very anxious since it was a week before our first game at Mary Washington! Ed. Note: The Hornets swept that doubleheader, winning 3-0 and 7-4.

The weather was beautiful all week!

On Monday and Tuesday we were on our own field and did defensive work and wrapped up with full field. Even though we practice as a team outside, most of the time is spent doing position work. Full field is a way to get everyone together to work as a unit. We work on communication between the infield and outfield, cuts, relays, and situations.

After Tuesday's practice we, along with the rest of the SU Athletics family, gathered in Halpin-Harrison Hall to listen to Kevin Long, President of MVP Sports Media Training, do a Social Media presentation for us.

Ed. Note: Long, who has worked with student-athletes across the country, came to SU thanks to a grant from the NCAA that was given to USA South Conference members.

Mr. Long was very entertaining and made his lecture fun and interactive. He showed us that what we put on the Internet can never be deleted and we shouldn't put something on Twitter, Facebook, etc. that could hurt our reputation of as athlete here at SU or hurt our chances in future job interviews. Although he made some jokes and used some funny examples, I think all of the athletes in the room got the message he was trying to get across.

On Wednesday, we were on Eagles Field (a slow pitch softball field next to our own) and we caught gorgeous weather! We split up into two teams and had an intra-squad scrimmage. Scrimmages are the most beneficial activity we have. Not only does it help batters see live pitching, it also helps the pitchers by having them face to actual batters. Fielders have live situations to work with and base runners get opportunities to test out their speed and decision-making on the base paths.

Finally, the coaches got to see how everyone worked together in a live situation. We got a lot of work done and it got everyone hyped up for game day. Thursday, our practice plan was to be outside for an hour and half then going into the armory for the rest of the practice, but we caught another beautiful day at Eagles Field. We were not having any part of going inside - it was a beautiful day and everyone wanted to stay outside. Using our tactful convincing, we got Coach K to let us have the entire practice outside!

Since the forecast for Friday wasn't looking good, Coach decided to change our Friday "Funday" to Saturday. On Friday, we took full advantage of the rain holding off by doing a lot of defensive work on the field.

Saturday morning we were in the Armory. Heather Sink, Morgan Coble, and Emily Wilson had the responsibility for the first Saturday "Funday"! For the first part of practice we broke out the sliding mat. This mat helps us work on sliding form without getting hurt…or that is the idea, at least. I'm pretty sure everyone walked away with a banged elbow or knee.

Not only were we hurting ourselves, but the unnatural situation made sliding and diving difficult to do on cue. We flopped on the mat banging up our limbs all while our caring coaching staff proceeded to laugh and video tape everyone's excruciating faces and timid running form as we jumped on the mat that was sure to cause injury.

View video of Shatora Lane, Lauren McCabe and Jordan Wolford sliding into the mat.

After sliding drills, we had hitting stations for about an hour and then we played a game called "SPUD". This game involves someone in the middle holding a ball with everyone else standing in a circle around the ball holder. The ball holder throws the ball in the air and calls a number out of any player on our team. Everyone that didn't have their number called runs as far as they can from the ball before the player who had her number called gets the ball and yells "STOP".

When she gets the ball, everyone must stop where they are. Once the designated person has the ball they can take three steps in any direction and tries to hit another player with the ball. There is no dodging the ball in anyway and if the ball hits you in any manner (in the air, rolled, or bounced), you get a letter. When you get four letters (instead of SPUD we used SUSB), you are out and the last player standing wins.

Once you get hit, you are the ball holder and it's your turn to call out someone else's number. After a while we got a little creative, throwing the ball against the wall, kicking it in the air (which I personally got disqualified for because I kicked the ball on top of the batting cages), making a human lane, like bowling, so the person with the ball could roll the ball to their target, passing the ball to each other so no one could get very far before "STOP" was called. It was a good activity to have a little fun and get loose before our first game.

View video of us playing SPUD.

We met on the bus bright and early Sunday morning to head off to Mary Washington. The short bus ride (90 minutes) left us little time to play our usual game of "Catch Phrase" and watch movies. However, we did get to perform our usual song and dance routine that gets everyone pumped up or at least laughing. We also shoved to the front of the bus to make as many sandwiches as possible for between games.

It was a beautiful day for softball! We played two great games and I think we even surprised ourselves for how well we hit across the board! Jordan Wolford and Morgan Coble had some great shots for multiple base hits and RBI's. Our cheering was also on point as always and we even got a few timid freshmen on the fence screaming! We won the first game 3-0 and the second game 7-4. We finished the day and headed on the bus for dinner and our ride back to Winchester.

Which brings us to our post-game meal...

The upperclassmen were quickly reminded about our strict food options, which ranges no further than Firehouse Subs, Subway, Panera Bread, and Chick-Fil-A. Doesn't sound too bad at first, right? Well it is "extremely looked down upon" (read: forbidden) from getting anything that is fried, contains mayonnaise, carbonation or has large amounts of sugar. So this means no chicken nuggets or fries from Chick-Fil-A, no mayonnaise, cookies, or chips at Subway or Firehouse, and no cinnamon crunch bagels or delicious smoothies from Panera. Absolutely no soda allowed.

We had dinner at Firehouse, which wasn't too bad since it was the first time. However, this was a short trip and it was only one day. Most of us upperclassmen have refrained from any of these restaurants for the entire off-season, just to prepare ourselves. Hopefully the "newbies" have taken our advice to change it up as much as possible.

As I write this, we are on the bus now headed to our Virginia Beach tournament and we are excited to get our season rolling and bring home 4 W's! Follow us at www.suhornets.com to keep up with our stats!