Much like the migratory birds of the area did at the beginning of the winter, the Ferris State softball team flocked to Alabama to escape the cold and get back on the diamond.
The team took part in the Charger Chillout hosted by Alabama-Huntsville and played through a demanding ten-game stretch of doubleheaders from Feb. 6-10.
“It was a really great experience this year to be able to head down south so early. Being a Midwest team, we are usually limited to indoor facilities until much later than other softball teams around the country,” junior outfielder Rachael Gabrielson said. “Being able to go down to Alabama and compete against some really good teams will help us when we begin league play.”
Facing off against top-tier talent in the sunny south revealed some glaring weaknesses in the Bulldogs’ game. The Dawgs were shut out three times, scoring more than 3 runs only once on their way to a 1-9 record in the first ten games of the season.
“We are going to work on being aggressive at the plate instead of letting the pitcher control the game,” sophomore infielder Sarah Johnson said. “Hitting is our focus right now, since you can’t win games without scoring runs.”
Both the coaches and the captains of the team are working to ensure that the team learns from these early season obstacles to earn success later.
“We have three captains and a senior leader. (Senior pitcher) Cara DeLange, Rachael Gabrielson, (junior outfielder) Taylor Verbic and I were selected by the coaches at the start of the season to lead the team,” Johnson said. “One of our main goals this year is to hold each other accountable on and off the field.”
Hoping to improve on last season’s 13-20 overall record, the Bulldogs are set to continue their 53-game season in 2015, which nearly doubles the amount of games that they played last year.
“Our expectation is to come out and show everyone how hard we have been working. What makes this year different from last year is that we now have a chip on our shoulder,” Gabrielson said. “Last season did not reflect the team that we are this year, and we are ready to prove it.”
The Dawgs finished last season on a sour note, losing their final seven games to GLIAC competition. However, this year, they’re anticipating a different result.
“Honestly, we can accomplish anything. We have a great group of girls that get along great and have a lot of talent. It’s just about using each of our skills and coming together as a team,” Johnson said.
The Bulldogs will be spending their Spring Break soaking up some sun in Clermont, Florida, but not as part of a vacation. They’ll be playing a daunting 18 games from March 6-15 at the National Training Center against teams from all across the country beginning with a doubleheader against Southern New Hampshire.