The Pointers softball team started its season last weekend by winning two games on Saturday then dropped two on Sunday.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is coming off a 19-17 season that saw them get a hot start before finishing the conference schedule 5-11, missing the conference tournament.
This year’s team has a lot of fresh faces, as ten of the team’s 20 players are freshmen. Third year head coach Jill Millis knows that experience in these early games is important for the young players.
“The newcomers’ first week is always about getting them the experience of their first college softball game,” Millis said. “You can talk about it in practice, but nothing is the same as stepping on that field and actually feeling the speed of the game.”
Senior infielder Paige Meulemans said that the team’s communication with each other seemed to correlate with its success.
“It seemed like the second day we got quiet, which hurt our game,” Meulemans said.
Millis and her players know that every team has to start somewhere, and that early season mistakes are easier to correct than problems later in the season.
“It’s not that you make mistakes, it’s what you do after,” Millis said. “It’s about taking the steps to fix it so we don’t repeat those mistakes.”
Going into this season, the team had some very specific expectations that they’d like to accomplish. Players and coach Millis explained that the end goal is to reach the conference tournament.
The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference softball tournament consists of the top six teams in the conference. The Pointers just missed qualifying last season.
Millis said that the team should have been in the tournament last year.
“We were right there, but we didn’t finish,” Millis said. “If you look at our record, there’s so many games that we lost by one or two runs. We were right there with some of the best teams in the conference.”
The Pointers had five one-run loss games. If they would have won one of those games, they would have made the conference tournament.
Senior first baseman Bekah Rennicke expects that this year’s team can achieve its goals with a group effort.
“The expectation is that everyone is going to be helping out this year,” Rennicke said. “We are going to need the entire team’s help in order to reach our full potential.”
Coach Millis sees that this team has the motivation to do great things.
“The attitude of this team is great in the fact that they want to get better,” Millis said. “They really want to get into that conference tournament.”
The Pointers know that the potential is there, but they have to have a positive attitude throughout the season, and never get too down when things get tough.
“We have to stay up when the score is not in our favor,” Meulemans said. “If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”
The team has a long way to go until it is able to start practice outside, but coach Millis knows that this year’s team has the potential to be something special.
“The sky’s the limit,” Millis said. “There’s no reason that this team can’t be one of the top teams in the conference. The only thing that can stop us is us.”