Three years of improvement in the win-loss column has the softball team looking for a successful season under Head Coach Katie Flynn, who has seen the Bears improve from 4-34 in 2014, her second year as coach, to 18-23 last year.
“We are simply more talented than we have been in my tenure here,” Flynn said. “This team wants to compete and contend.”
The team got off to a promising start last season, but that soon gave way as Ivy League play began. This year, Flynn hopes to be the “hot team” in the Ivy League.
The squad has seen the culture shift over the past few years, said catcher Julia Schoenewald ’17. Schoenewald, one of the team’s co-captains, added that she is “extremely proud of the senior class for instilling high expectations of hard work, dedication and unity.”
Schoenewald said the team has “leaders at every level with many different styles.” She stressed the importance of individual relationships with her teammates “to push them to be their best and to set an example through work ethic and integrity on and off the field.”
The work of the team’s captains has not gone unnoticed by younger members of the squad.
“Each one of them brings a different leadership role to help our team,” said infielder Sarah Fringer ’20. “They are all great role models, and I definitely look up to them for how I would like to be, not only as a softball player, but also as a person in the future.”
The team is not immune to year-to-year attrition, losing some key players from the 2016 squad. This year, the Bears are without Janet Leung ’16, who played all 41 games last season and posted a .315 batting average, and outfielder Yeram Park ’18, who will miss the season while on a mission trip, Flynn said.
“Those were two big cogs in our offense, but we feel that we have the personnel to make up for it,” she added.
Those losses will be mitigated with increased depth “on the mound and more competition at all positions,” Flynn said.
The return of Meghan Wimmer ’19 from injury and the addition of Emily Waters ’20 give Bruno five pitching options, compared to just three last year.
The team has added five freshmen to the roster, and despite the challenges that additions may pose to some teams’ chemistry, Fringer said it has not been an impediment.
“From the moment we stepped on campus last semester, we felt like we had an immediate family through our teammates and coaches,” she said. “We are not only teammates on the field, but we are great friends off the field, and I know if I ever needed something I could turn to any one of these girls at any time.”
Schoenewald added that the chemistry will only build as the team prepares for its first game of the season.
Yet another key addition is the completion of the new baseball and softball facility this spring, which will feature a turf field, dugouts, improved batting cages and bullpens, new bleachers and new scoreboards, The Herald previously reported. Bruno’s pitchers will benefit from a newly-leveled bullpen, as the pitchers were previously required to warm-up uphill.
“We have an amazing facility to compete in and for our fans to enjoy,” Flynn said.
The Bears will play a 47-game schedule this season, opening at the Madeira Beach Tournament in Florida Feb. 24. Bruno will break in its new turf field March 28 in a matchup against Quinnipiac University.