By the Beacon Sports Staff
While the softball and baseball diamonds were covered in snow and the Southern Maine region was suffering through a few winter “bomb cyclones” over spring break, the SMCC softball and baseball teams where in Florida taking to the diamonds.
The SeaWolves softball team returned to Florida after a three-year hiatus from traveling during spring break, while the baseball squad made it to Florida after making it to South Carolina two seasons.
The teams would combine winning five games and dropping 12 (the Lady Seawolves would post a 2-6 record, as the men would go 3-6); regardless, both head coaches Magnant and Yanni agreed that the trip was well worth the time and energy making it happen.
Head Softball Coach Magnant reflected upon the trip as, “a great opportunity to expose our players/ladies and compete against some very talented teams. Our trip was a bonding experience and we are ready and confident to take on the rest of our Spring Season.” Baseball Head Coach Yanni stated that the trip was, “a learning experience that I feel will go a long way when we get into our games here in the Northeast and in the YSCC.”
When asked what made this trip special, Meranda Martin shared, “I think what made this trip so special was being able to play softball outside in warm weather instead of being in a gym,” as Sara Ring added, “There were a lot of laughs on and off the field.”
The baseball squad started their spring-break games with a double header against Waubonsee from Illinois, splitting a double header. They would lose the opener 4-2 and win the second game 5-0. The win would come courtesy of the arm of junior pitcher Amos Herrin, who opened his spring season by pitching a complete game, having to throw 90 pitches while striking out 11.
A day later, the Lady SeaWolves started their spring-break games, also splitting a double header. The Ladies’ double header was a non-traditional one, as they would beat Northland Community & Technical College from Minnesota in the opener, 11-0, and drop the second game against Spoon River College from Illinois, 0-9.
Planning for the trip started last summer for the softball team and last fall season for the baseball team. The goal for both teams was to do as much fundraising as possible in order to keep the out-of-pocket cost for the student athletes as low as possible.
According to Coach Magnant, “The team did a great job fundraising,” as the main goal Magnat had was to make sure all of his players had a chance to go “without breaking the bank.”
Fundraising events included “fall/spring softball clinics, selling DD Booklets, a Fundraiser Night at Buffalo Wild Wings and sending out sponsor letters to their families and friends.” “The team did such a great job fundraising,” Magnant said, “not only did they pay for the spring pre-season in Cocoa Beach and tickets to Universal Studios Park. They only had to pay $100 out of pocket for whole trip. They did a super job!”
While the planning part of the process for the baseball team started a little bit later than the softball, the details that needed to be taken care of were highlighted when Coach Yanni shared that, “Securing flights, lodging, transportation for 21 people (16 players, 3 coaches, and 2 helping hands) for 5 days is a task in itself.”
Coach Yanni also shared the same sentiments that Coach Magnant had with keeping the trip as cost effective as possible for the student athletes, stating that, “The biggest obstacle was trying to do this trip and keep it affordable for the players but at the same time allowing them to get the work in and the experience. We held a bowling fundraiser that raised a few bucks and the kids also sent out sponsor me letters to help, in the end it only cost each kid $400 for the trip.”
In terms of play, both teams maintained a schedule that didn’t leave them with much down time. The baseball team played nine games in five days, four days on which they played double headers. The softball team played eight games over the course of five days, as the first two days and last two days of play saw the Lady SeaWolves playing double headers.
Both squads faced teams that are well outside of the New England region, as they took to the diamonds against teams from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.
When asked how he felt his squad did against the teams they played, Coach Yanni stated, “In general, I guess the athleticism may have been better but in the game of baseball I believe it is more about your mental fortitude. Being able to make adjustments and turn the tide when a game is not going your way is what we struggle with. We could of beat every team we played down there, we have the skill to do it, what we lacked was a little bit of mental toughness. I am not saying we aren’t mentally tough because we battled all week and ended up 3-6 but we should of been 4-5 and some of the games that got out of hand I don’t think the score reflected the team we are.”
Meranda Martin spoke of how the level of competition affected her and her teammates: “…the most challenging part of the trip was staying up when we were down. I think a lot of people got down on themselves when they were not playing their best game. Which then carried over to the entire team, then after we were losing by a few runs it was harder for us to refocus. I will say I think everyone learned that even if we are down we still need to stay up and be focused.”
Sara Ring reflected on how the team responded when they found themselves not playing well. “I really thought we did a good job of laughing things off when we did something that seemed silly,” she said. “I was also extremely proud of how everyone gave it their all when they went in. No one went into the games giving only 70%.”
Considering that the Yankee Small Conference softball and baseball spring seasons are quite short, having a spring-break trip scheduled is quite the marketing component for recruiting. Softball coach Magnant stated, “The Florida Trip is a great recruiting tool! Not only will recruits save a lot of money at SMCC, but it also shows recruits that we are serious about our softball program and we run our program like a Division 3 program with trips to Florida to compete and face talented teams to get ready for the spring season. It also shows Recruits we’re willing to play a tough/busy schedule like Division 3 colleges.”
Baseball coach Yanni reflected upon the trip as a recruiting aspect with these thoughts, “going to Florida is a commitment to the program and hopefully showing kids we are serious about our program thus pulling some recruits and growing our team. We will undoubtedly need to grow the team especially in the pitching staff department. Currently a lot of my position players are also my pitchers, this puts a lot of stress on arms and the players when we are playing in so many games. Every team except one that we played had a full bullpen, fatigue for them was not in play as much as it was for us.”
The Beacon would like to thank Jody Kenna and Mackenzie Smith for sharing the photos they took of the SeaWolves softball and baseball teams in action with the paper. If you are interested in viewing the softball and baseball portfolios you can find the photos in the Photo Galleries under the dropdown menu in the Fan Zone on the homepage of the SMCC Athletics website. Hit the 2017-18 season prompts for either team. For the softball team you’ll find the softball album labeled as March 11-16, 2018 Cocoa Beach Spring Training (Titusville, Fl).
You should also find the baseball photos under the baseball 2017-18 season prompt with March 10-16, 2018 Russmatt Central Florida Invitational.
Categories: Cover Stories