If there hasn’t been much buzz around campus about Madison College softball lately, there’s an easy explanation for it. Over the past week, the story for the WolfPack has been the weather. After spending much of March in Arizona, the WolfPack returned to Madison, only to have their next six games cancelled due to unsuitable outdoor conditions.
Amidst the obvious frustration of not being able to take the field, there are some positive outcomes to these circumstances. The byproduct of these cancellations has been extra practice time leading up to conference play and the WolfPack plan on taking full advantage of that time. While in Arizona the WolfPack lost 10 of 11 games but were able to accomplish something beyond wins and losses- team chemistry. The games in Arizona helped both the players and the coaching staff get a feel for this team, as well as a sense of what needs to improve in order to be able to compete in the North Central Community College Conference.
“We found out that our pitching is very strong, but other parts of the defense and the hitting weren’t up to par,” said head coach Leo Kalinowski. Between hitting and defense, the more deficient of the two thus far has been hitting, and it has been a point of emphasis during practices since the team’s return to Madison. During their time in Arizona, the WolfPack often struggled offensively, failing to score more than three runs in six out of their eleven games.
In many cases, youth and inexperience can be detrimental to a team; the transition from one level of play to the next can be a challenging one, and frequent mistakes are often costly. Nine of the players on this year’s roster are freshmen, but familiarizing themselves with the junior college level has not been much of an issue.
“This year we have quite a few more freshmen, but they’ve adjusted really well,” said Kalinowski. “We’ve been getting a lot more quality athletes who have come from some pretty good programs, so the adjustment period was really good.” Kalinowski has also noticed that his team has shown a strong work ethic, as well as good chemistry. Both are essential parts of team success, and they will serve as catalysts for the WolfPack’s improvement moving forward.
While the weather delays may have helped the WolfPack of recent, they have already begun to cause problems. “Instead of spreading our games out over a period of time, now we’re getting crunched up from getting so many cancellations,” said Kalinowski.
Fatigue could arise as a potential concern, since, in order to fit all of their conference games into an already busy schedule, the WolfPack will likely have to play on more back-to-back days than were anticipated.
Like any coach, Kalinowski has set some goals for his team this season, and despite these challenges, he is set on reaching them.
“Our goal is to win the conference, get to the regionals, and make it to the nationals,” he said. “With the schedule we’ve played, and the way we’ve set it up, we play really stiff competition to prepare us for up north.”
The WolfPack will play next in a double-header at Harper College on April 10.