By Kaie Quigley & LJ VP LaFiura – Co-Editor-in-Chief & 1851 Contributor
Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slew of regulations that followed, the baseball and softball programs traditionally would fundraise through events at Boston College and Gillette Stadium to fund team trips to Florida over spring break. These annual trips returned this spring after a two-year hiatus, due to the relaxation of COVID protocols both on campus and nationwide.
This year’s trip marked the first time either team had left Auburndale since the Spring of 2019. The week of March 12, each team set out to their respective destinations— softball to Orlando, and baseball to Fort Myers.
“All those late nights we kept telling ourselves ‘it’ll pay off,’ or ‘I’m going to get to Florida,’” said senior softball captain Kelsey Scannevin, an exercise science and psychology major. “Being down there, it felt really good knowing that we had worked for it.”
Whilst in the sunshine state, both programs played nearly ten games against non-conference opponents. Combined, the Lasers won a total of four of their 17 games.
The softball team played eight games against teams from all over the country, including Salve Regina University, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. They picked up two wins in the eight games with a 9-2 victory against Beloit College and an 11-2 win against Mount Saint Mary College.
“In a tournament like that, Coach gets to pick who we play, so she tried to put us up against some really difficult teams,” said Scannevin. “We knew we had our work cut out for us.”
Meanwhile, the baseball team matched their female counterparts with two wins of their own, going 2-7 over the course of the week after winning one of their two games against Defiance College 7-6, and beating Division II St. Michael’s College 8-6.
Despite losing the bulk of their games down south, baseball Head coach Billy Uberti said it’s in his team’s best interest to play tough competition, and it’s a strategy he often employs.
Additionally, Uberti said the main purpose for his team’s trip down to Florida over spring break wasn’t to win every game, it was to “play a lot of baseball games in a short amount of time.” Since the baseball roster this year consists of 16 first-year players, Uberti was eager to see how his brand-new team would perform in-game.
“What I took away from it is now knowing who we can rely on late in games on the mound, knowing who our weekend stars are gonna be, knowing what our lineup is going to be offensively and defensively, what we can and can’t do,” said Uberti. “It was a big learning opportunity for our coaching staff as well as our players.”
Sophomore infielder and team captain Bryan Baumann agreed, saying facing high-skill competition helped the team develop. “As a team everyone figured out what their role was, the coaches figured things out like who was best where and more.”
Baumann also added that his squadron needs to dial things in mentally. “We had a lot of guys struggling… things like errors and strikeouts. In baseball you need short term memory above all. As the week went on, luckily this improved.”
Sophomore infielder Cam Ames agreed with his captain and coach, and thinks what the team learned will help them against Great Northeastern Athletic Conference opponents. “This trip opened some eyes, showed us our weaknesses and things we need to work on,” said Ames.
For many, this was the most time that they had spent with their teammates. “Most of us spent every second of every day with each other and got to hang out with guys on the team we normally don’t hang out with as much,” said Ames. “We were able to get to know more kids on the team that way.”
Baumann said away from baseball, the team had experiences that helped connections grow stronger. Aside from lounging poolside, or spending a day at the beach, the team experienced issues and delays with each of their flights, whether it was bad weather or a long layover. Baumann said going through this as a team brought everyone closer.
Sophomore pitcher and first-baseman Eryn Sheeley shared a similar sentiment. “We learned to live with people that we don’t normally live with,” said Sheeley, who currently lives on campus with two of her teammates. “There were girls that I didn’t get a chance to talk to when we were home because of practice and the season, but right when I got to Florida I felt like I had this new connection with them.”
Despite their rigorous schedule, the softball team had plenty of opportunities to experience Florida off of the field. Upon arrival, they got the opportunity to visit Disney Springs, Disney’s retail, dining, and entertainment center. Friday was their off day so many of the players went off with their families to various Orlando tourist locations. Those who did not have family on the trip went with the coaches to Cocoa Beach.