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Softball prepares for Ivy League schedule with trip to Golden State

Improved pitching, upgraded offense spark Bears’ hopes for better conference play

The softball team hit rock bottom last season, compiling an abysmal 4-34 record that included a 28-game losing streak. But in the third season of Head Coach Katie Flynn’s tenure, the Bears (2-3) boast a youthful roster — only three of the team’s 15 players are upperclassmen — and have their eye on winning.

“Having a young team allows us to play with energy,” said captain Trista Chavez ’15. “We just need to continue to play with the same energy, confidence and focus, and I strongly believe that we are going to have a great season.”

Bruno’s season is off to a solid start, with wins over Army and Bucknell in Myrtle Beach, S.C. as part of a five-game series at the end of February. But with the weather-related cancellation of a trip to Towson, the Bears have yet to show they are any different than last year’s team, which also started 2-3.

Nevertheless, the team already looks different in one crucial area: offense. Through five games, Bruno is hitting a healthy .284/.348/.454 and is averaging 5.4 runs per game. In contrast, it hit .214/.258/.290 over all of last season and averaged a shade over two runs per game. The Bears also hit six home runs in their last weekend of play, as compared to just 10 all of last season and just two over its first five games in 2014.

“We have power throughout the lineup and do not have to rely only on one player to be able to produce runs,” Chavez said. “We have a solid mix of power and speed on this team.”

As one might suspect from the makeup of the roster, the team’s first-years have made the biggest impact. Three of those home runs came from first-years, and Yeram Park ’18 leads the team with three walks despite ranking ninth on the team with 12 plate appearances.

On the pitching side, Katie Orona ’18 has emerged as the team’s ace. In three outings, she has struck out 24 batters over 16 innings and has compiled a sterling 2.63 ERA. Leah Nakashima ’17 and Jessica Cherness ’15 were Bruno’s two main pitchers last season, though they had ERAs of 4.40 and 5.17, respectively. They combined to strike out just 95 batters in 174.2 innings.

Orona was quick to credit her coaches and teammates for her success.

“We have some really good coaches,” she said. “My catcher has been a big help,” she added, referring to Julia Schoenewald ’17.

With a pair of wins in their pocket and a much more talented roster than last year’s, the Bears are ready to prove themselves. They begin the break with a seven-game set in California before opening Ivy play on the road against Cornell and Princeton.

“Our team motto for this season is to win the day,” Chavez said. “We strive to win games, but we strive even harder to get better each day. … If we as a team are constantly striving to improve our skills and better ourselves, the wins will come.”

“If we win every day, we should set ourselves up for success in the future,” Orona said.


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