North Texas Daily

Rigorous fall training prepares softball team for 2016 season

Rigorous fall training prepares softball team for 2016 season

Rigorous fall training prepares softball team for 2016 season
November 17
11:27 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

For those that thought softball was just a spring sport, think again.

The Mean Green softball team has been working hard throughout the fall semester in preparation for its spring schedule. The team held 20 practices and have practiced a minimum of eight hours a week since the first day of classes in August.

With 11 new players on the roster, the fall season has provided the fresh faces a chance to get accustomed to the practice schedule and become a part of the positive culture the coaching staff looks to instill for the 2016 season.

“It really gives them a small taste,” head coach Tracey Kee said. “It’s an opportunity for us to really break down, look at their fundamentals and see where they best suit our program.”

A typical fall week begins with morning weight training, which happens three times a week at 6:15 a.m. With classes scattered in between, players reconvene and head back to the softball facility for conditioning training at 5 p.m. Other days include everything from full team practices to individual drills separated by position.

With equal emphasis on pitching, offense, defense and baserunning, Kee said she is establishing a system that will prepare her roster for the physical and mental rigors of playing at the college level.

“We kind of look at those as the four wheels of a car,” Kee said. “If one of those blow, the other three should still be able to win a game.”

The system was put to the test in six scrimmages throughout the fall semester. North Texas went 5-1, with all five wins coming against junior colleges. Its only loss came to the University of Oklahoma, falling 4-0 in a full nine-inning affair.

The Sooners put up at least nine runs in five of its eight fall games, so the game’s result was a positive one for North Texas. Playing Oklahoma is something Kee makes sure to do every fall to gauge where her team stands against a perennial top opponent, especially with such a youthful roster at hand.

“Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to go to [Oklahoma]. I always looked up to them,” freshman utility player Casady Webb said. “We’re all on the same level, but it was nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”

For fellow freshman pitcher Lauren Craine, adjusting to college life and the difficulty of the practice schedule has been exhausting at times. However, she said the Oklahoma scrimmage helped conquer her nerves and taught her not to be scared of stiff competition.

“The caliber of play we’re at right now is just so different than any other league I’ve played in,” Craine said. “From high school and travel ball, some things just blow my mind, just how fast the game is and how much I’ve learned since I’ve been here.”

Even the team’s veterans who have endured multiple full seasons of Mean Green softball have agreed there is an increased intensity this fall compared to previous seasons.

“Conditioning is definitely more difficult than last year,” junior infielder Kelli Schkade said. “With this group, we’re all so athletic that our coaches know that we need to be pushed even harder to reach our maximum [potential].”

The team is expected to keep up their conditioning throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks before turning things up a notch when spring arrives. Once everyone is up to speed, Schkade and her teammates will begin to reap the benefits of all the hours put in leading up to the season.

“Our whole team, we work really hard,” Schkade said. “Even though it’s not fun right now, we know it’s going to pay off in the end.”

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