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Women's Golf Blog

Grace's Note


February 20, 2012

Time is flying by as we enter our third week of the season.  Everyone is getting excited to go to Alabama to enjoy our usual festivities of kicking butt and eating delicious food. These past two weekends on the road have been entertaining, to say the least, as we joke around both on and off the field, while still staying focused on the game. Some of the greatest moments: playing in a playground in the middle of a Pensacola neighborhood, attacking Cassie with foam balls, trying to figure out where that awful smell in van 1 was coming from (person behind it is still on the loose), where oh where did Lizzie’s chocolate egg run off to…my bet is on Coach Meg…SHOUT OUT to the Southwest flight attendant with the hilarious Bridesmaids impressions, Cat counting the ceiling tiles at the mall, “the honey badger”, eating at Bro’s house and my house, watching Cat and Coach Meg try raw oysters for the first time, playing ultimate hacky in the freezing cold, and the swerving bus drive back to Miami…just to name a few. Don't forget seven wins in nine games! Our season is going great with everyone contributing to each game.  Seeing the depth of our team is awesome, as many have come off the bench in tight situations and produced.  I think we are more than capable of taking anyone head on and coming out with a W. Alabama better be ready for our drive, our depth…and our appetites because we’re coming for you!


January 28, 2012

WELCOME BACK!

I am super excited to be back for my senior season, and to be writing the softball blog again.  This year is going to be full of challenges, but our new and improved team is ready to take them all head on.  As you may have read in the articles on our website, our team this year is stacked with new talent and determined veterans. We have six seniors, including three All-Americans who will bring the heat even stronger again this year.  As seniors, we have stepped into our roles as mentors for our four freshmen, though they are already showing that they are a force to be reckoned with.  They bring a refreshing desire to the team, and in my opinion, teach the old ones just as much, if not more, than we teach them.  They truly remind me of Durkin, Cassy, Bri, JT, Paula, and I when we first stepped onto Barry field together: rambunctious but powerful, dorky but perceptive, nervous but ready.  They fit right in with our wacky family.  In addition, we are honored, yes honored, to have Coach Meg, join our team.  She has such an amazing insight into the game, and balances the team well with her quiet smile. Her work ethic is impeccable, and her camaraderie is heartwarming.  We have been working hard these past weeks preparing for season, and I’m proud to say that we all past our marks on the infamous beep test. The best moment of conditioning by far this year was watching 5-foot-1 freshman Kelly Martinez literally push 5-foot-9 catcher Brooke Asher across the lines while running to help her make her beep test goal.  What team work!

But, this first weekend is about unfinished business. From the moment we heard that our first two games would be against Valdosta State, you could see the fire build in the returners’ eyes.  We all found ourselves remembering the end feelings of last season. I even read my last blog several times, taking in all the emotion and letting it stir my excitement. They ended our season, though we really beat ourselves, and this year we are starting the season right where we left off, but determined to turn the tides.  They better come ready.


May 15, 2011

It's hard to sit and write this last blog for the season tonight because I do not want to believe it's all over. Yesterday, we lost our first game to Valdosta State, but mercy-ruled Fort Valley State 15- 1 later that night. Valdosta State lost to UAH, so we were set to play them again the next morning for the elimination game. I came into the game knowing that we could take Valdosta State head on, and I still believe that now even though we lost. The bats just never woke up and came through. Though many people were hitting hard ground balls, we were not putting the ball in any holes. It seemed to me as the game went on that the team grew more defeated. The come-back spirit was not in its usual full force. I remember standing on third base glancing over at my team's dugout thinking, what's happened to my team...come on, get up. I think Coach Penner could feel it too as she softly said to me, "I wish I could steal you home"; anything to put a fire back into the team and turn things around. We never scored in the game, but Valdosta kept scoring each inning, and eventually the game ended early in the 6th. The feeling of defeat is so strong this afternoon, and even more so the feeling of embarrassment. We could have been better than that, especially for our seniors who will never step on the game field again.

Though I am finishing this year's blog on a sad note, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to reflect on this year's season and share it with whoever is reading. I would like to thank you personally for supporting us every step of the way and taking your time and thought to read my perspective from inside the Barry softball team. And lastly, I would like to thank my parents for being so supportive of me this season, and every season, in all of my strides and even failures. I will always remember the number one rule, Dad, "Have fun". Until next year… but always, Go Bucs!

May 13, 2011

Today was supposed to be our first game day, but due to poor weather, the games for today were moved to tomorrow. Both today's games and tomorrow's scheduled games will be played tomorrow. We all woke up excited to play, and drove to the field, but as soon as we got out of the bus, we were told to get back in because of lightning in the area. We waited in the bus for almost an hour, and then went to Quizno's Subs for lunch. The game was rescheduled for 2:30 pm, so we quickly grabbed some food and got back to the field. We started hitting in the cages for warm-up and got through everyone, while the pitchers warmed-up throwing in the baseball bull pen. But, the director of the tournament came over to us and explained that they had now decided to postpone all the games for today to tomorrow due to weather reports of future rain in the afternoon. So, we went back to the hotel to relax with family and hangout. Some people went shopping or to the movies, while others read books or slept. We all met up for dinner at Red Robin, and then walked around the shopping area. The weather in the afternoon turned out beautiful. I hope tomorrow's weather is much better because we are all anxious to play.

May 12, 2011

Today is our first day in Huntsville. We had breakfast in our wonderful hotel, which has a breakfast buffet. Then we were off to the UAH softball field. We were allowed one hour of practice on the actual field, so we wasted no time in warming up and stretching on the nearby soccer field. The weather was hot…and unlike Miami, there was no breeze coming off the water to keep us cool. Once we hit the field, the excitement became overpowering. Everyone looked great and was alive, cheering each other on every ball hit. I must have dove four times in the first fifteen minutes of practice before Coach Penner told me during the water break that she loved the enthusiasm, but to be careful if I could. Everyone looked awesome, and Coach Penner and Cooper were smiling the entire time. After about thirty minutes of defense, we hit front-toss on the field. One after another, balls were sailing over our heads, hitting the fence if not going over it…except for the slappers of course. Coach Penner joked to me that her grandma could put down a better bunt, and as if karma was on my side, Penner had to jump out of the way of my next hit. She thought for sure that slappers could not hurt her, but she has a bruise on her foot to prove otherwise. After practice, everyone was exhausted and hungry. So first, we went back to the hotel to shower and change. Then we went to the local Beauregards, which is famous for their wings, fried pickles, and homemade ranch dressing. We had so much food, and plenty of fun joking around. Families started coming in town one by one as well as the Barry administration. After lunch, some of us went shopping around our hotel. We played around at Sports Authority, until the employees asked us to stop using the punching bags. Then Nat, Cat, Durkin, Hannah, and I had a good time taking pictures around our hotel, making silly faces by the water. Later that night, we all went to P.F. Chang's near our hotel with the families and Barry administration. We took pictures outside of the restaurant with the famous horse statute. Back at the hotel, Dr. Kluka, Dean of HPLS at Barry, gave the team a motivational talk. We are thankful to have her here to watch and cheer for us, and her speech was very heartfelt. Tomorrow is our first game, and I am super excited to get on the field, and show them what we are made of. Go Bucs!!

May 11, 2011

Today we left for Huntsville, Alabama for the regional competition. Everyone is super excited, though we woke up early this morning to catch our flight. Bevy got patted down at airport security, which the team thought was funny because Bevy is the last person to do anything crazy. Our first flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta was delayed for about an hour and a half, allowing for the girls to crash on the floors of the airport waiting area at our gate.

Finally, our plane arrived and we made our way to Atlanta. Cooper and I got lucky with our seating and had emergency exit row seats and the first row to get off the plane. Due to our previous delay, we only had fifteen minutes till our second plane for Huntsville took off. As soon as the airplane doors open, Cooper and I darted out. We sprinted from the back of the A concourse down the escalators to the underground transportation. Two stops later, we jumped out of the train car and up the high, HIGH escalator to the C concourse, maneuvering left and right to surpass people standing on the escalators with all the time in the world. I yelled back at Cooper to keep up, though she lagged behind me, when I finally called out her usual practice phrase, "Arms swings! Arm swings!" After running all the way through the C concourse to gate C 42, we both leaned on the counter of the gate check-in, and told the attendant in between heavy breathing that the team is on their way.

They held the plane for us, which was great because the rest of the team was about ten minutes behind us. After our short flight, we landed in Huntsville and headed to baggage claim. Cooper bet that our bags did not make it on the plane, but when the first big red bag swung around the conveyor belt, the whole team cheered with joy. All the bags made it. We loaded up in the bus and went straight to a local high school field for practice. Everyone was exhausted and hungry, but Coach Penner was right when she said at the end of practice that before we started on the field, everyone was in a bad mood, but now everyone was having fun and in great spirits.

Everyone was starving after a long day of travel and practice, so we headed to our favorite place in Alabama, Big Bob Gibson's restaurant for barbecue pork, ribs, and the biggest potatoes you have ever seen. Cooper's family met up with us at the restaurant, and much of the team ran up to them for hugs and greetings. After we were all completely full, we checked into our hotel, the Westin, which is very, very nice and in a great area with tons of shopping. Some people decided to go swimming and walk around the area, while many wanted to rest and have time to relax.

Tomorrow, we will be practicing in the late morning at UAH's field. Can't wait for Friday's game.

May 9, 2011

REGIONALS HERE WE COME!!

This morning all the whole team gathered in the Landon student Union at Barry to have some breakfast before practice and watch the announcement of the softball regional rankings on the big screen tvs. Of course with 16 hungry girls on a Monday morning, the team pounced on the fruit bowls, bagels, and donuts immediately. The room actually started to fill with athletic department faculty and other Barry athletes, including much of the baseball team. As they started to announce the rankings and upcoming games across the country, I started to get over excited with anticipation to hear our name called. And soon, they got to our region of the country. The news reporter announced Alabama-Huntsville as the host, then their first opponent, Fort Valley State…and then BARRY UNIVERSITY!! Everyone in the room started cheering! We are going to regionals! And our first opponent is Valdosta St. And now, it's time for hard work and practice before we travel to Alabama on Wednesday morning. GO BUCS!

May 2, 2011

We have finished the regular season this past week with our senior night games against Northwood and our final conference tournament at Lynn. Every year senior night becomes harder to take in as we honor our seniors, remember all the fun times, and say goodbye to their time with us at Barry. This year I honored my best friend, Emma Dunlap, and as I went to present her with her engraved glass plaque tears came to my eyes. I gave her the biggest hug I could muster and smiled at the site of all the seniors having their moments on the field. Jessica Bevlin is the only one of the three seniors that has been at Barry for all four years, and I honestly cannot imagine Barry softball without her witty sense of humor, and genuine kindness. Soto will also leave a hole in the team as she is always loud on the field and pushing everyone to "do work, son." The games did not go as we wanted them to, losing the first game 5-3 but winning the second game 4-2. Too many little mistakes and missed opportunities with runners in scoring position brought us down on the field. We were not playing our game and it showed. The first loss truly burned in the pit of my stomach as we tried to pull it together for the seniors. Though we won the second game, we should have hit better and scored more runs than 4.

On Thursday night, all the girls got dressed up, including heels, makeup, and even their hair down, for the annual Athletic banquet. We all had a great time making fun of each other as our faces came up on the screens and cheering for Jessica Bevlin when she entered the room as though we were at an actual game. I was really nervous for my question and answer part of the banquet with Mr. Covone, but everything worked out really well in the end. We took plenty of team and individual pictures, and proudly boasted our overwhelming win the Champs Life Skills Award, which is a team by team competition which is based on points earned through community service, school spirit and support of our other Barry teams, participation in campus activities, and going the extra mile. This is our third year in a row winning the award, and this year we won with 1480 points, double the amount of the runner-up, women's soccer with 795. Haley Struthers, SAAC president and soccer player, and I (SAAC Vice President) have made this an on-going battle all year…the win and thought of how much hard work and dedication went into this accomplishment made me smile for the rest of the night.

Lastly, we played our final conference series at Lynn on Saturday and Sunday. Coming off of the Northwood games, we knew that we needed to step it up. The first game of the series we came out swinging the bats. We had 14 hits in the game and scored 14 runs total with the help of 5 walks. Both Bro and I had two doubles in the game and scored 7 people between the two of us. Alyssa also had 3 RBI, while Jess Tabor, Durkin, and Cassy had one each. Coach Penner and Cooper enjoyed the aggressiveness, not only at the plate but on the bases, with a total of 7 stolen bases in the game. The next day we had to continue with powerful bats and keep Lynn's offense down. Though we had won the game that day, we still needed to improve on our defense and keep them from scoring, since the score ended 14-8. The next day was a long and stressful one with small mistakes leading to bigger ones. To pull both the wins out, we had to get down to the heart of the team and regroup. It seemed like we came out strong in the first game of the day, but once we held a steady lead, the defense relaxed too much. Coach Penner came out to the mound after several errors in the inning to pull our heads up and tell us to stay strong. We had to learn to make mistakes singular and not allow one mistake to affect the rest of the game. In the last inning with two outs we were losing 8 to 9, and I felt as though the world was going to end. I stood watching Jess Tabor hoping and praying that she would come through and lift the weight that was looming over me. And then, it happened. She hit the ball down the right field line, making the score tied and reaching third, and then scored off of an error in the infield. The score was back in our favor and we made it through the last inning unscathed to win 10-9. Though we had won, it was ugly and we knew it. The goal now was to gain some of our pride back and bring back a stronger defense. The final game was stronger, but we still did not execute to our best abilities. We won the game 5-3, but we should have capitalized more. Bro and I kept the duo hitting going with Bro 3-for-3 and I was 3-for-4. Bro was a stud in the box at Lynn, and having her on base smiling and cheering always boosts my confidence at the plate The most fun of the day for me, though, was having 3 stolen bases in the last game, which brought me over my 20 stolen base goal of the season with 21. Alyssa and Cassy also helped the team with 2 RBI each. The regular season is over, and now we are anxiously anticipating the announcement of the final regional rankings. We have to wait a whole week!!

April 18, 2011

Our weekend at Tampa was full of ups and downs. Everyone was excited to be going to Tampa not only for the games, but also for the food and fun. We visited both Sarah Bro's house in Safety Harbor on Saturday afternoon and my house in Tampa on Sunday after the doubleheader. Sarah's parents made so much amazing food from loaded mashed potato casserole to hot fudge sundaes, everyone left the Broeseker's full to the brim. After leaving their house, we took the bus to the hotel, but this time Coach Penner made sure that there were no concerts going on in Tampa so that we would not hit traffic again like our trip to St. Leo. The weekend of games did not go as we had hoped for to say the least. We out-hit Tampa in the first game, though errors and inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position, resulted in a 4-0 loss. In the second game, much like the first, we were unable to put together hits, and we lost 3-0. We had lost the series, but we had to salvage something from the weekend. The Tampa series has always been a battle every year. We know that the Tampa team is going to come out with everything they have and fight aggressively. But unlike in years past, we did not seem to rise to the occasion. The second game left me with a dominating feeling to prove ourselves and come out on top. The third game would be a different story. As the pounding 92 degree heat was upon us, we fought for our pride. Bro hit a triple in the first inning, and I scored her off a single. Alyssa moved me over on a bunt, and I scored off a double by Bri. Hits were coming together and producing runs in the first, but reverted back to random hits for the next 11 innings. Paula and the defense held Tampa to zero runs until the sixth inning, when they tied the game. The game continued through extra innings and the pushing feeling and urge I had to prove ourselves strengthened. Even after I slammed into a thick fence pole at full speed while running after a foul ball in right field, I felt the overwhelming need to stay in and do all I could for the team. In recollecting on the weekend, Coach Penner told me that she thought for sure that I would not be getting up very fast after the run-in and planned to pull me out of the game. But she after she saw how fast I got back on my feet, she knew I was determined to push through it. We played through the miserable heat until we scored three off of a couple of hits and errors in the 12th. We won the game 5-2. Though we had won the game and battled through 12 innings, I still felt that we lost some pride that weekend.

During the next week, I was not able to be at most of practice due to illness. At first, we thought my aches and pains were due to my incident with the metal pole in the Tampa game, but the athletic trainers soon realized that this was something more. All I wanted was to be back in time for the big weekend against Rollins. So I rested as much as possible. I was able to come back to practice and watch on Thursday and participate on Friday before series started on Saturday. The weekend with Rollins was, well, not good. In the first game, Rollins scored five runs total, only three earned, while we scored two runs. Our bats did not come out that night and we only had five hits in the whole game while Rollins had nine. We let too many people on base, and it hurt us, especially when we could not get base runners ourselves. The next day was even worse. We lost both Brooke and Durkin due to illness, and though Paula tried her best to fight through it, we lost Paula before the game from sickness too. Losing Paula, Bevy was not set to pitch the whole first game, and though I had the utmost confidence in her things just did not go our way. The outfield also repositioned because of Durkin's absence, so I was now in center, Alyssa in right, and Soto in left. From the get-go, Rollins came out swinging. They ended up with fifteen hits in the game, including four homeruns. Our defense also struggled to help Bevy, making six errors in the game. Our offense was non-existent with only two hits in the game and Bri accounting for the one run with a home run in the 5th. We lost 12-1 in only five innings. I cannot describe that total feeling of embarrassment. Everything went wrong. We had to turn things around and we had to do it fast. We started the third game, and though things were not as bad as the previous game, they had not picked up like the third game at Tampa. The game was stopped in the top of the 5th due to rain and we did not finish the game. The past two weekends hurt us greatly and we cannot deny that. All we can do now is figure out how we are going to come back from these weekends. Will we rise to the occasion and refuel the drive to fight and rebuild confidence? I hope so, but it needs to come from within each and every one of us. We all have to get the thirst for Buc pride. We still have a lot ahead of us that is ours for the taking. It's not over yet.

April 3, 2011

This past week, the team got back into weight workouts with our strength coach, Wayne, while also stepping up conditioning at practice. Many of the girls were very excited to get back in the weight room and get to work, and we could all feel the effects for the next couple of days after. The potential storms brewing all around Miami stopped our practice short on Monday and canceled practice on Tuesday. We took advantage of the time to catch up on school work and much needed relaxation. Both Penner and Cooper repeated every day how important this coming weekend was against Nova. We needed to come out strong and confident, and we needed to prepare now. We understood the significance of the weekend, but knew we could take them…who we were playing did not matter to us, we just had to play our game. We played the first game on Friday, April Fool's day. Though we contemplated pulling a prank or two on Penner and Cooper, we knew that a prank on a game day wasn't the best idea. From the first inning, you could tell the series was going to be a fierce battle. Nova scored one run in the first inning, and we answered with a run in the second. Nova regained the lead in the third, scoring one run, but we tied it in the fifth. Holding them in the sixth inning, it was now "our inning"--bottom of the sixth. Jessica Tabor got on base with a single, Bri laid down a bunt and made it on safely. The dugout was growing louder as the team worked together, each doing her job to move runners. The first run of the inning came with a single by Durkin and Nat added two more runs with a single to center. Sarah Bro then answered the team's hitting craze with a triple to make the score 6-2. We won the first game of the series.

As Emma and I came out to the field on Saturday, you could see Cooper dancing in the dugout with a broom and hear the distant sounds of Michael Jackson's song "Black or White". As the team came to the field, the Michael Jackson songs continued. Many were singing and dancing, while Bro and Durkin pleaded for me to do the thriller dance. Cooper had requested a complete Michael Jackson warm-up, and even Penner loved it as she walked by our warm up stretch singing away. You could feel the excitement build as the first game started. Starting with the second inning, our bats could not be stopped. Bri and Paula both hit doubles, while Durkin and Nat had singles, making the score 3-0 in the second. Nova scored one in the third, but that did not shut down our offense. In the fourth, the bats pushed the lead further, making the score 8-1, as we batted all the way through the line-up. In the fifth, Nat hit a double and scored off my single up the middle. We mercy-ruled Nova, 9-1. Many of us couldn't even sit down during coach's talk in between games due to all our excitement. We made sandwiches in the dugout and our former teammate, Amanda Goelz, brought us amazing chocolate chip cookies. We knew that Nova might come into the final game with a vengeance, so we had to keep up the momentum. The final game was much like the first game of the day as we took the lead and nova responded, tying the game 1-1. We didn't let that last long, scoring four runs, including Paula's first collegiate home run. We won the game 5-1 by keeping Nova's offense down and taking advantage on their defensive errors.

The competition only gets tougher as we travel to play Tampa and then have Rollins at home. We hope to have lots of fans at both series, so make sure you are there. BUCS BALL!!

March 27, 2011

After last year's painful losses to Palm Beach Atlantic, many of us were itching to face them again and turn the tides our way. For Nat, these games meant even more as they were against her own former team. In the first game, Bri and the defense came out strong, keeping the sailfish scoreless. Alyssa brought in two runs and soon Brooke hit a two-run homer. The team's spunk and obnoxiousness continued from the previous weekend at St. Leo, as the dugout got louder and louder. We won the game 6-0. In the second game, the Sailfish came out to battle with their bats, as the lead went back and forth. Paula battled in the circle to keep them down, as our bats and aggressive base-running held onto the lead. We won the game 5-3.

On Friday and Saturday, we hosted a home SSC series against Florida Southern. In Friday night's game, you could tell something was off. A couple of errors, some hits by the Mocs, and our lack in hitting, resulted in our first conference loss of the year, 8-5. The score was 8-1 till the last inning, when we finally started to wake up. We loaded up the bases, and with a full count, Brooke slammed one over rightfield fence. Though the inning produced runs, it wasn't enough to win the game. We all knew that we had beaten ourselves, especially at the plate. All we could do now was get past that game, and win both on Saturday. In the first 4 innings of the first game on Saturday, our fate looked much like the previous night. We were losing 8-0 at this point and we needed to score in order to not be mercy ruled. I got a single in the 4th, stole second and took third on a wild pitch, and Jessica Tabor hit me in with a ground ball. All I thought was at least we are still in the game to have another chance to score. In the 5th inning, both Jessica Bevlin and Durkin got singles, making my confidence rise as I could see that the team was starting to pick up momentum, though we did not score. Bevy was able to hold the Mocs, who were trying to get one run to mercy rule us, down in the circle. Then it was the 6th inning—which has become known as "Our Inning". I started the inning with a single, followed by two singles from Alyssa and Jessica Tabor-I scored, so 8-2. Next, Brooke hit a single to left field, scoring Alyssa and Cassy sprinted in (running for Jessica), making it 8-4. Jessica Bevlin got hit by a pitch, giving us runners at 1st and 2nd, and Durkin hit a single, scoring Shenique (running for Brooke), 8-5. The momentum was at a high that couldn't be stopped, and the dugout was in complete chaos. Nat hit a single, loading the bases. Sarah hit a ground ball to the second baseman, who made the throw to the catcher at home. It seemed like Bevy was out at home, but the catcher was not on the plate. Bevy, noticing this mistake, tip-toed around the catcher and lightly touching home, and the umpire shouted, "safe, safe". As I got up to the plate, I could see the confusion on the catcher's face as the umpire said to her, "your foot was about 6 inches from touching the plate. You weren't standing on it." Score 8-6. I singled, scoring Durkin and keeping the bases loaded. 8-7. Alyssa scored Nat with a ground out, tying the game 8-8. Then Jessica Tabor hit a line-drive to centerfield, scoring Sarah and I. I couldn't help but watch my foot as I stepped on home plate making the score 10-8. The entire dugout was at the plate jumping and screaming in excitement to high-five us both. Bevy and defense kept the Mocs scoreless the next inning, ending the game on a high note of victory.

The next game would be for all the marbles, and we had the advantage of that ultimate high. We scored two runs right off in the first inning with a two-run homer by Jessica Tabor, and struck again with one run in the 2nd inning. Bri kept the Mocs down on the mound, but it seemed like slowly we were losing our high and settling for the runs we had. The Mocs scored one run in the 5th, but we won 3-1. We won the series, making a comeback Friday's loss, and were looking forward to the big weekend against Nova.

March 21, 2011

We traveled to St. Leo this past weekend. For many of us this was a weekend in our own backyard or with our families. Sarah, Bevy, and I are all from the Tampa Bay area, while dozens of parents and friends came from all over to watch the games. We got a chance to stop and have lunch at the Bevlin's home near St. Leo. They prepared plenty of food for us to eat, and after we were all stuffed, we played Rockband, picked strawberries, and some even shot down cans with a BB gun. Cat and Dennis did a duet of "Kung Fu Fighting", while Shenique, Jess Tabor, and our athletic trainer, Sam, shot down coke cans like snipers laying on the ground. After all the fun at the Bevlins, Coach Penner wanted to check into the hotel in Tampa before making our way to St. Leo for our first game. Reaching the outskirts of Tampa, we were soon surrounded by traffic due to the Kenny Chesney concert. Penner called me to the front of the bus to direct our bus driver through my home town since I know all the back roads. I routed the bus driver in what seemed like an endless maze, diverging from the main roads that were packed with vehicles. I sat there thinking that in all my life growing up in south Tampa, I never thought I would be taking a bus down those little neighborhood streets. We finally made it to our hotel, quickly changed into our uniforms, and got back on the bus.

We did not have much time to warm up, but we knew that it wouldn't stop us from playing our game. In the second inning, we really opened it up, scoring eight runs - the best part of it all was how loud and obnoxious we became as the scoring continued. We finished the game early, winning 10-0, overexcited for the next day. For dinner that night, we went to one of my favorite home restaurants, CDB Southside, which set up the upstairs private area for us and even had live music. The next day, some of the girls loaded up with kumquat fruits from a nearby tree (a tradition for the team every time we stay at the embassy suites in Tampa) and got to the fields with plenty of time to warm up. The first game of the day started off with a bang, or should I say two bangs—as Brooke and Bri hit back-to-back home runs. The early lead did not last long when St. Leo scored some runs soon after. We had to get back the lead and continue to fight. We got people on base in the next inning, and Coach called for me to squeeze bunt, tying the game. Each person had to contribute to the continuous runs, even Jessica Bevlin got a hit in her first collegiate at-bat (after four years).
The dugout was so loud and crazy that the St. Leo dugout soon began to mock us, but we didn't care. I got up in the fifth inning with no one on base and my plan was to find a hole and get on base with a single. The pitcher threw me a slight high and inside pitch, and I turned on it, sailing the ball into open field in right-centerfield. I figured, I'll make it a double, but as I reached second, Coach Penner was waving me on, so I continued to third. But her waving kept going and going. I turned third base and all I could see was the plate. I hear my dugout going nuts as I hook slid into home plate beating out the throw. I was in shock that I had just made an inside-the-park home run-my first collegiate homer. We won the game 10-6.

In the second game, St. Leo wasn't going down without a fight as they soon took a one-run lead. We didn't score until the fourth inning, and continued with five runs in the fifth, including a two-run homer by Bri. At this point the cheering battle between our dugout and St. Leo was heating up, as they made fun of our cheers and we added in our new chant, "BUC BAAALLLL, BUC BAAALLLL". The bats kept the cheering alive as Brooke brought in another run in the sixth. We won the game 7-1. Coach took us to Cheesecake Factory in following the tradition of "sweep-y, sweep-y, eat-y, eat-y". We returned to Barry 9-0 in conference play, preparing to play PBA on Tuesday and Florida Southern the next weekend.

March 18, 2011

We got back to Barry from our long trip, and for my first time at Barry I spent spring break not on the road. Coach Penner gave us a couple of days off of practice to recuperate, in which we spent sleeping, making up exams, seeing family, and having some fun in the Miami sun. We came to practice on Wednesday ready to work. On Saturday and Sunday, we hosted our first home conference series of the year against Eckerd. Coach Penner made it a point to us to play our game, keep up the enthusiasm, and stay aggressive. We won the Saturday game 3-0, but we were not satisfied with just the win. We needed to minimize mistakes and put together more consecutive hits. The one thing that struck us the most was the low amount of hits we had in the night came. So the next day, we came out to the field of a goal to reach double-digit hits as a team, and not only did we score double-digits, but the highest of our season yet with 20 in the first game! We tied the school record of total hits in a single game. It was crazy exciting…hitting became contagious from one batter to the next, including pinch hitters and subs. We won 16-0 in five innings. Winning the series is not our goal this year though. Sweeping is. So we came back out and won the third game 7-4, sweeping Eckerd and making our conference record 6-0. We couldn't have been more thrilled pushing our winning streak to 15 games.

On Tuesday we had practice, but were told that we were not doing any softball. We all got together, including Penner and Cooper, and painted our dugouts black. 18 girls and two coaches painting dugouts is an experience— from outlining lettering and reaching heights to rollers writing names and painted abs and tattoos. At one point, the group painting the visitor dugout and the other group painting the home dugout became rivals to see who would have a better painted dugout (by the way my team, home dugout definitely won). I was one of three people that coach told to tape and outline the letters at the top of the dugouts. The task seemed endless, but with a lot of people helping we got it done. Coach Penner was right, in doing the painting ourselves, we had so much more pride in our own field. Everyone loved it saying that it made the whole field look fiercer.

On Thursday we had two home games against Molloy, along with the first pitch thrown by The Iron Nun (Sister Madonna Buder), who was visiting Barry. Everyone wanted a chance to meet her and talked her about her amazing career and success as a tri-athlete. Bro and Durkin agreed after meeting her that she was their new idol. When the Iron Nun found out that she would be throwing the first pitch, she even came out to the field to practice and ask for pointers. Coach got her a jersey with her name on the back and we all took pictures. She was so kind and high-spirited in supporting us, and her pitch was definitely a strike in our books.

The first game got underway, but it felt like the team wasn't completely there that day. Something was off, and you could feel it. We were able to tie the game 1-1, but we lost the game in the 8th inning. The winning streak came to a close, but we still wanted to push forward and hold our heads up. In the second game of the night, we started off strong, but soon Molloy got some runners and a homerun, and the game turned. We lost both games that night, but what was worse is we knew we did not get beat by Molloy, but beat ourselves.

Those kind of games stick with you for days to come, but with that ache also comes a fire to prove to yourself that we came bounce back. We will see what happens at St. Leo this weekend.

March 6, 2011

This past week, known as the "not-so spring break", was full of hits, runs, meals, bus hours, fun, and most importantly wins. We started the week playing Kentucky State and Albany State at Rollins College. In these games we really had to wait for the right pitches, but we came through with double digit hits. We were able to also stay aggressive by stealing bases and seeing open bases while our opponents weren't looking. We came out with four wins on the weekend, and were treated to a great dinner and ice cream. Keepin' the tradition of "sweep-y sweep-y, eat-y eat-y" as Coach Penner always says. We the, had to get back to Barry to play a doubleheader against Mercyhurst on Monday afternoon. These games were very close with Bri keeping Mercyhurst down at the plate. Our bats had to come together as a team to get the wins with pinch runners, bunts, hits, and capitalizing on errors and mistakes. In the second game, we were down at the bottom of the 7th inning, but we have come to know ourselves as the comeback kids. Bro got on base to start it off and I moved her over to second with a sac bunt. Then Alyssa was got up to bat and hit Bro in with an RBI double. The dugout was going wild, cheering and clapping. The game was tied, but we weren't going to let it go extra innings. We then loaded the bases, and Bri hit a single to win the game. We went nuts on the field, excited that we came out with a team-effort win.

We took the high of winning in those games with us to Florida Tech as we went into a 10-inning battle on Tuesday afternoon. As our first conference series of the season, it was crucial to make a statement and come out on top. Laying down after 10 innings is never an option for us. Once again we had to pull together to get runners on, move them around the bases, and bring them home. A walk, a sac bunt, an error, and some solid hits gave us three runs in the 10th, and then Bri and the defense kept Tech down. The next day, we knew we did not just want to win the series, not just to sweep the series, but to play our game and show the conference what we are made of. Our offense on Wednesday was unstoppable with Alyssa and Durkin both having their first Barry home-runs and Jess Tabor also connected. It was a thrill to be on base during those games because I knew that someone was going to score me with a hit, and I even got my first Barry triple. Paula was amazing on the mound, keeping the Tech Panthers down and having faith in her defense to back her up. We swept and showed the power of our bats in both high scoring games.

The week wasn't over yet, but only just begun. Next was our trip to Georgia for a three-day tournament against tough regional teams. On Friday, we continued working the bats against Ohio Dominican and North Alabama. Brooke Asher had a homer, while everyone's bats stayed hot with singles and RBI. We really got in a groove over the week and the team couldn't stop cheering "I feel a shot comin' on" because the feeling of hits and fun was in the air. After winning both on Friday, we were excited for the weekend ahead, but the weather didn't help. West Georgia got slammed with heavy rain late Friday night and most of Saturday, and the tournament was cancelled. We decided to make the 14-hour drive back to Miami on Saturday. The bus ride dragged out, but we passed the hours sleeping, watching movies, doing homework, and hanging out. We got back to Barry for the true spring break, ready for some time off, but also to get in some practice before our next series against Eckerd.

February 22, 2011

We are eight games into the season with a little bit of a rocky start. Losing our first two games to Flagler made us realize that we need to refocus and come together more as a team. The week of practice after the Flagler games was full of team building and reflections on what to adjust for the long weekend ahead in Alabama.

This was my third trip to the Alabama Chillout tournament, and definitely the best weather of the tournament so far. Every year we pack three and four layers of clothing to wear under our jerseys, along with dozens of hand warmers and earmuffs, but this year we didn't need them. Coach Cooper is from North Alabama, so we got to meet and enjoy the company of all her family and friends. They came to our games and cheered us on, and then they made us an incredible southern-style feast. And if there is one thing my team loves to do besides play softball, it is to eat. Alabama is known by the team as a great weekend of food, and this year Alabama surely did not disappoint us. The food was amazing, and the company was even better, as we sat around with Coach Cooper's family and heard stories of her childhood.

The games in Alabama were exciting as our offensive really improved in the course of the weekend. The team bonded and ignited a spark together that was addictive, thrilling, and most importantly, fun. We battled in every game and believed in what we could accomplish together. The dugout was crucial in supporting the team to stay focused and feel confident, while also having some fun by making up cheers. The newest one is for pitcher, Jessica Bevlin, which changes the words of chorus "Benny and the Jets" to "Bevy and the Bucs". Anything crazy or silly can actually push the team to relax and bond.

We are now preparing for the long week ahead which includes a tournament in Winter Park, two home games, our first conference series against Florida Tech, and a three-day tournament in Georgia. All the girls are making up exams and turning in assignments this week, while also practicing on the field. I am glad that we have so many games coming up because I think it will really motivate us as we come into conference play. Wish us luck! GO BUCS!

February 9, 2011

4 days till our first game! The whole team is super excited to get the season started. This past month we have been working hard every day to prepare for season. From running a timed mile in the rain and scrimmaging against each other to rolling up the field tarp and live batting practice with Coach Penner, the Bucs have put in an immense amount of dedication into 2011 so far. The infield has been enhancing plays with runners and bunt situations, while the outfield has been perfecting fence catches and crucial throws to home. Hitting has become a thrill to watch, as Coach Penner exclaims, "Get off me ball" with every homerun hit. Things are really coming together on the field, and everyone is anticipating game day.

For me, the most enjoyable part is seeing the team grow closer together. Learning each other and how to be one powerful team unit is vital for our success. The pride each player has for her fellow teammates and who we represent as Buccaneers has become an immense force that I can feel every time I step on the field. Sometimes things get tough, but we have learned during this past month that we are stronger as a unit and can get through anything by working together. We are communicating daily about team goals and expectations, and how each individual person has a role in meeting those goals.

Can't wait till I get to put on a jersey and step onto my home field with all my teammates for the first game. Make sure you are in the stands to watch and support us on February 13th. Hope to see you all there! GO BUCS!!

January 3, 2011

First I should introduce myself. My name is Grace Slone Collins and I am a returning junior for the Barry Softball team. During my freshman season at Barry I distinctly remember the seniors telling me how fast my four years at Barry would fly, but I didn't believe them. Now I'm a junior, and I have to admit they were right. This year we have 12 returners and 6 new players, creating more talent depth than I could ever imagine. This bunch is known by the athletic department for being loud and fun while maintaining a strong work ethic and great dedication. I don't think I could ever fully explain the personality of Barry Bucs softball, but if you get the chance to be a part of it or even around it, it's truly a group and a feeling that you will never forget.

After last season, our assistant coach, Candace Abrams, graduated while assistant Brittany Anderson took on new opportunities within the Barry Athletic Department. So this year we have a new assistant coach: Marilyn Cooper. Her coaching style from the first day was welcomed as new and challenging as she demanded nothing less than perfection. Cooper's love and dedication for the game is truly inspiring. Her workouts and conditioning are tiring, but we benefited greatly from it this fall. Many individual-best mile times were beat and weights that seemed ridiculous to lift were pushed up with ease. Very soon, Coach Cooper discovered the Barry softball team's uniqueness as she had to listen to some of the team scream-sing Whitney Houston in the van to games and see the whole team in wacky costumes for the annual softball Halloween contest. We discovered that, much like the rest of the team, she had an addiction to Harry Potter and picked the Yankees side of baseball debates. The team learned from Coop on the field while Coop became a part of the goofy Buccaneer family this fall.

Anticipation for spring season can be seen everywhere around the softball field this fall. From extra workouts with our strength coach, Wayne Rullan, to live hitting with Coach Danielle Penner, everyone pushed themselves to prepare for the spring. Penner's drive for this season gleams in her eyes with every new drill and motivating talk she gave. One important thing that Coach Penner as stressed to us this season is the immense amount of depth our team as this year. We have added two transfers, Alyssa Goldsmith and Natalia Ojeda. Alyssa, a junior from Arizona, is a great addition with a powerful swing and strong throws from the outfield. Nat is a sophomore coming to us from Palm Beach Atlantic University. I still remember her energy and drive on the field as we played PBA last year, as she covered all the holes effectively on the infield. We also have four freshman, Brooke, Hannah, Cat, and Krystal. I am looking forward to seeing how they all do this year.

I am already proud of my team this year, not only for their hard work in the weight room and on the field this fall, but for their continuing excellence in the classroom and within the community. We had the opportunity to help with several service projects this fall, including the light-the-night walk for Leukemia, the Barry chapel Thanksgiving food drive, and the annual safe Halloween trick-or-treat. The team had a great time becoming part of the community and helping others, while having fun and growing together as a team. I cannot wait for this upcoming season and for practice to start in January.

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