"I'm not really superstitious, but we tried something different," he said.,When Emerson women's softball head coach Phil McElroy saw his team starting to suffer midway through last week's grueling ten games, he used an unconventional method in his attempt to revive their play: he had his players switch dugouts.
"I'm not really superstitious, but we tried something different," he said.
It must have worked. The Emerson women's softball team toppled the Daniel Webster College Eagles twice in an afternoon doubleheader last Sunday. The team is now 11-11 on the season (9-5 in the GNAC).
"Softball is a game where it's not a surprise to play a lot of games," McElroy said. "But when you have to balance academics, games and travel time, it wears you down."
He said that each doubleheader takes about four hours. When combined with warm-ups and travel time, each of which McElroy pegged at around an hour, it's easy to see how the athletes could get worn out.
Freshman Lynn Herman said she felt that she and her teammates were prepared mentally and physically going into the week.
"We've been practicing and conditioning all season, we're prepared," the broadcast journalism major said. "We knew we had a lineup ahead of us, a lineup of tough games. We looked at the schedule and we knew what we had to do."
The first game of the day was close, ending with Emerson winning 5-3, amd strong all-around play gave the Lions the sweep in the afternoon's second game.
"We had some timely hits, we stole a lot of bases," McElroy said. "We used our speed, and our pitching was solid"
Starting pitcher Katie Sargent was particularly effective, allowing only two hits and no runs during the game's five innings. Junior Katie Martell gave the Lions the lead early in the second inning, sending teammate Christina Naramore home with a sacrifice fly, despite the fact that the first baseman made the play.
The Lions padded their lead after a two-run homer by centerfielder Mallory Moretti. The blast sparked a five-run third inning by Emerson. Herman drove in the last two runs with a line shot to centerfield midway through the fourth inning. The game was ended by the mercy rule after the fifth inning, making it an 8-0 Emerson victory.
"We have a very strong defense, there isn't a weak position out there," Sargent said. "I have enough confidence to let batters get a piece of the ball. I know the defense can make the play."
Overall, though, McElroy said that his team struggled a bit, citing the weather as a major issue. He referred to the cold as an equalizer in an athletic contest such as softball, saying the weather handicaps his girls, nullifying many of their strengths.
"Being freezing out, this isn't softball weather," he said. "It's very difficult to hit and to grip the ball in cold weather."
McElroy said that as the weather heats up, so will his team's performance. He did, however, concede that Emerson's opponents would also benefit from improved conditions.
"Both teams have to play in the cold," he said.