Despite graduating key players in the pitching circle, Truman State University softball opened its season last weekend in Alabama with a 1-3 record against some of the nation’s top contenders. The Bulldogs opened 2017 against No. 1-ranked 2016 defending National Champions, University of North Alabama. Truman led 5-4 until North Alabama hit a three-run walkoff homerun to win the game 7-4. The ‘Dogs also fell to University of West Alabama and Delta State University but came out victorious with a score of 2-1 in 8 innings to Mississippi College.
Head Coach Erin Brown says the Bulldogs are optimistic about the potential of this season, but to achieve their goals in post-season, the team must focus on the detailed process of day-to-day improvement to get the finished product they desire.
The ‘Dogs have a few players on the must-watch list this season that have the potential to propel them toward these goals. Sophomore outfielder Christa Reisinger was First Team All Conference and Freshman of the Year in the GLVC in 2016. She was also a finalist for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Freshman of the Year and continued to attract attention as one of 50 players on the 2017 Player of the Year watchlist for this season, according to the NFCSA.
Brown says her team also has some newcomers fighting for playing time, among them freshman pitcher Alyssa Hajduk, who Brown says is adjusting well to the college level and will be a good option for the ‘Dogs on the mound.
Kirksville winters are not very helpful for outdoor spring sports because of limited outdoor practice time. Brown says it was especially frustrating for the hitters who are unable to see where the ball is going and practice making game-like adjustments in batting cages. Brown says this disadvantage does give the girls a little extra edge and urgency once season rolls around.
“There’s definitely an advantage of being able to get outside from the beginning like the teams from Alabama or Texas because you are limited with what you can do inside with defense specifically and scrimmaging,” Brown says. “I will say, the girls are eager to play … I don’t know if that exists other places down south because they’ve been out there since day one.”
As a freshman, Hajduk says playing at the collegiate level has forced her to make adjustments to her work ethic and time management. She says everyone works on strengthening certain aspects of their game in addition to the team workouts and goals for the season.