Diamond in the Rough - Vol. 2 No. 2

By Erica Kondzielawa '14

I am baaaackkkkk!

Yes, we have started softball practice and so it is time for our regular installments of my blog, "Diamonds in the Rough" to begin again. I will be blogging throughout the semester about everything that happens with our program and I hope that you will enjoy reading about our team.

Ed. Note: This is Erica's second year as the team blogger. She did a great job last season of submitting an entry each week and we plan to keep the same schedule – look for a new entry every Friday for the duration of the season.

This week, Erica recaps a community service project and the beginning of spring practice.

About a week before our preseason began, we all met up at Shenandoah Cross fit on January 12th for a Sandy Hook Elementary fundraiser. It was a great cause and an opportunity to meet up and get a good workout in with our teammates and coaches before we officially met for preseason. In addition to our 20+ women squad, there were many others that were in attendance to raise money for the friends and families of Newtown, Connecticut.

There were heats of six people at a time, 12 minutes per heat. You had to personally count how many cycles you could go through in those 12 minutes. The heat consisted of 14 kettle bell swings, 20 sit-ups and six burpees before finishing off with a 100 ft. sprint. Assistant Coach Brit (Brittney Neer) was in attendance, and since coach Brit is well-known for her outrageous strength and speed, she of course she blew everyone away without breaking a sweat.

Ed. Note: Chuck Norris wants to be Brit when he grows up.

It was a fun, tiring experience for the whole team and everyone who attended. Everyone cheered for each other and it was great to do something productive for our bodies and while raising money for the Sandy Hook victims.

Our season began on January 22nd in the armory. Before I talk about the practice, I need to introduce you to one of my new teammates.

This semester we are welcoming sophomore Brianne Morlock to our team; she will be a great addition to our pitching staff and we are very excited to have her!

Now that I have that out of the way, we (literally) got into the swing of things by doing some drills to knock the rust off. Coach introduced us to a few new stations as well as some new hitting equipment to help us get quicker and stronger in our swings. After the armory we went to Shingleton Gymnasium to do some conditioning and we were all so super excited for it!

Another change for us is on our coaching staff. Renoula Jones, who played with us two years ago, has joined the staff as an assistant coach, and she took the lead on the conditioning drills.

Ed. Note: Renoula is a 2011 grad and was a four-year starter in the outfield. In her senior year, she was named All-USA South, to the USA South All-Tournament team and to the Salisbury Regional All-Tournament team. She is back on campus working as the Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs. And no, despite what everyone seems to think, we are not related. ;/

We started out the conditioning by separating ourselves into Bunnies and Rabbits. For those of you who don't know, Rabbits are the faster ones on the team and Bunnies are the not…so…fast ones! We began with some "stingers" (sprinting back and forth to different lines on the basketball floor), moved to lateral bounds and finished with another set of stingers. Cheering each other on through the pain helps it go by a little quicker. We finished off the conditioning with a four-corner drill and a circuit of burpees, jump squats, sprints, planks, and many other exercises.

We are making conditioning a priority this year so that we make sure everyone is as strong, fast, and ready for our double headers and tournaments. In addition to conditioning twice a week, we are also lifting twice a week.

Wednesday we were split up into hitting groups to make our time more efficient. We worked on live bunting and tee work while focusing on hitting outside pitches. Coach also picked something for each of us to work on to improve our overall games. Switching up the partners every practice gives us an opportunity to bond with everyone and learn from each other.

Thursday we met in the armory again for hitting stations.

Friday we had a recruit visiting and some of us met with her and Coach K at the Dining Hall for lunch. Morgan (Morgan Coble) and I both live off-campus and we were excited to go to back to the free buffet without the hassle of having to cook and clean up! We scarfed down our fried beer-battered fish and ranch before Coach made it to the table, although she was a little suspicious, we slipped by without punishment! Sharing some laughs and talking to the recruit, snow started falling and later got so heavy that Coach was forced to cancel practice.

Ed. Note: Coach Kotynski is legendary in her pursuit of players who deviate from her proscribed diet. The 'chip eater incident' from last season is still fresh in everybody's mind.

We met Saturday in the armory at 9 a.m. for practice. Half of the team went to EVO (Evolution Strength and Conditioning) and half stayed to hit; an hour later, we switched. EVO is still cross fit but just styled a little differently than Shenandoah Cross Fit.

At EVO we began with a cardio warm up, dead lifts, stretching, and then went on to the actual workout. We had 25 minutes to complete it and we were split up into partners. We were to count how many cycles we got through of the exercises which included 10 full sit-ups, 10 squat jumps, 10 kettle bell swings, and 10 band pull-ups.

Everyone cheered on each other and the EVO trainers were great in pushing us and making sure we kept correct form. It was fun to have a little competition as to which team could finish the most cycles the quickest, it made the time go a lot faster and didn't make it seem like so much work. Kaitlyn Hendershot and Brittany Guepe won in the first group and Morgan and I won in the second group! We get some bragging rights over our teammates until next time!

Pushing ourselves and bonding as a team is our main focus this preseason as we scorch into our first season in the ODAC ! We are very excited and are working together in the weight room, at cross fit, and on the field to get faster, stronger, and better as well as having a few laughs along the way.

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Until next time, Go Hornets!