Wheaton’s softball team is now over a third of the way through the season, and their story is monumentally different than that of one year ago. The Lyons stand at a strong 12-4 overall record as of March 26—compared to a record of 2-10 at the same time last year.
Pitching has been an area of particular strength for the Lyons, led by Shelbi Wilson ‘19. The Lyons have pitched three shutouts and conceded only one run in four of their games so far. “Our pitchers are really doing their jobs, which is great, and a big improvement from last year,” said coach Rachael Powers ‘03.
In terms of roster, the team hasn’t seen a drastic change in upperclassmen—only one senior graduated—but the current team is composed of a strong block of underclassmen, making up 15 of the 19 player roster. “We’ve far and away exceeded where we were last year,” said Powers. “We still have plenty of things to do, but we’re playing well. We’re in a really good place.” Recently, the Lyons’ bats have caught alight, scoring 32 runs in their last five games, and sending the team onto a seven-game win streak.
Pushing the team towards this string of positive results has been a practice-driven focus on minimizing mistakes. “Overall, we look to stick to the fundamentals, and do them correctly,” said Powers. When it comes to game time, “if we just make the fundamental routine plays, and one big play, then we’re probably gonna have a good shot to win the game,” explained Powers.
Despite the great start, the team faces a long road ahead. The softball season contains a 38 game schedule—which is crammed into a month-and-a-half long stretch. This task only grows more daunting when one looks at the length of game days, which are back to back doubleheaders. An hour and forty-five-minute warm-up is quickly followed by two to four hours of games, during which the players have to mentally reset and prepare for the next match. “It’s tough,” said Powers. “Based on the win or the loss, it’s tough to stop and restart from scratch. Everyone’s 0 to 0, whether or not you lost the last game. It’s not easy, but we find a way to do it.”
Powers credited the senior’s experience in helping develop the team mentality required to handle the quick transition between the results of the first game, and the challenge of the next. “They’re definitely a big factor in terms of their tenure,” said Powers. “Within the program, their understanding of how to weather the ups and downs, how to manage what’s coming next, is crucial.”
Last year, the Lyons missed the playoffs by only one game, which they lost at home. With the 2018-19 season, the Lyons are poised to head into conference play next week with a far superior record; giving them a chance to bring their good form against their conference rivals. “It’s been a great ride so far,” Powers said. “We got a lot of work to do, and I’m excited with the group we have, so maybe we’ll see them continue to come alive.”