After the conclusion of their 2013 campaign, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association recognized Emerson’s softball team as the top academic team in the country, beating out 29 other Division 1, 2, and 3 schools with a 3.7 cumulative team GPA.
In the past seven years, the Lions have been recognized as the best academic team in Division 3 softball four times (2007, 2008, 2012, 2013) while under the leadership of head coach Phil McElroy.
As the team transitions into New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference competition, McElroy and his squad are still focused on continuing their excellence off the playing field while establishing themselves as a force in their new, more competitive conference.
“They come in here passionate and driven in not only their sport, but their major and academics as well. They come here with a purpose,” McElroy said. “They take great pride in that and they understand that is the number one reason they are here and be the best they can possibly be. We just need to continue to work hard on becoming a respectable team in the conference.”
Although they are currently sitting at ninth place out of 10 teams in the NEWMAC, senior shortstop Shannon Torosian thinks her team can still make a name for itself while focusing on their studies.
“We’re a very focused group and we take things seriously. Coach tells us [what we need to do] and we also hold the underclassmen to that,” said Torosian, who made the Dean’s List last year. “One of our goals is to stay excellent academically.”
Torosian, who leads her team with 27 runs and currently holds the team’s second highest slugging percentage (.689), also said the team’s drive towards academic dominance is still a main priority.
“We’re doing pretty good; it’s frustrating because there are some games that we could have taken from conference leaders. We played well, it’s just a matter of coming with all our energy and giving up little things,” said Torosian, a visual and media arts major specializing in animation.
Now, in his 14th season as head coach, McElroy has amassed a .632 winning percentage (381-222), and in 2007 led his team to a conference championship and Emerson’s first NCAA tournament appearance.
Although his squad was successful in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, McElroy said the NEWMAC is and will continue to be a more dynamic and competitive conference.
“Every team in the NEWMAC has a chance to beat each other on a given day. Some teams may be stronger, some weaker, but you can beat anyone and they can beat you,” said McElroy. “In the GNAC, there were maybe three other teams in that category. Here it is a very fine line between winning and losing.”
In their first season of NEWMAC action, the Lions are 12-12 and 1-7 in conference play, but McElroy said he is confident in his team’s future in the NEWMAC.
“The ball is being hit harder, people are making unbelievable plays on us and [that] is now the norm,” said McElroy. “It’s been an adjustment period. We just need to continue to work hard on becoming a respectable team in the conference. Making the tournament is still a goal and possibility, but we need to do a lot of things right to make sure that happens.”
While the move to the NEWMAC has brought about a new, higher level of talent for Emerson to compete against, and McElroy said his team will get better, but his team’s main priority will be academics.
“Kids come to Emerson for the majors we have and the specialization in the communication field and everything else we have here,” McElroy said. “Kids come to Emerson for Emerson and athletics is a bonus here.”