The Lehigh softball team has corrected its course after a tough start to the season and now holds the second best record in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks are currently 22-14-1 and 11-1 in Patriot League play.
The team did not have a typical start to its season, playing competitive out of conference games early on with games against Arkansas and the University of Central Florida, two teams in the USA Today Top 25 rankings.
Coach Fran Troyan said the team was not ready for the pace of the games early in the season.
Troyan said despite the challenge, these games helped the team identify areas to focus on for its in-league games.
“Now, because of that experience, things have slowed down for us and the pace of the game is at a fun pace where they can have some success,” Troyan said. “We are looking forward to continuing to build on our strengths and build to having a good chance at winning a championship.”
Junior Emily Cimino said by playing these games early on, the team had time to adjust their game and address weak spots.
“I feel like we’ve really made a turnaround in the last couple of weeks,” Cimino said. “We got off to a rough start, but we worked really hard at practice and I feel like we’re in a good place now, especially since we just started Patriot League games.”
Now that Patriot League play is here, the team has shifted its momentum. Cimino and senior Addison Kittel both said the team made a turnaround from the beginning of the season.
The team’s first Patriot League game was against Army on March 26. While one game of the series was postponed and the other suspended, Lehigh claimed victory in the first game.
Troyan said the Army win was big for the team. He said it allowed them to gain confidence going into the rest of the Patriot League games, which constitutes a majority of the rest of the season.
The Mountain Hawks didn’t play a home game until April 2, 25 games into the season, when they swept Lafayette in a three game series.
Kittel said the last game in that rivalry series has been a stand-out in their season so far.
“It was a big telling of who we are as a team,” Kittel said. “We got down early, but we found a way to battle out of it. In the seventh inning they came back and tied it up, but we were still able to get that run in the eighth inning and secure the win when we needed it.”
Kittel said to get to this point, the team has been working to fix the mistakes made during practices to ensure they do not happen again come game time.
“When we stay focused, we are able to keep our defense clean and put bats on the balls,” Kittel said.
The team is also working on strengthening their team chemistry, Cimino said. She said they are doing a lot of team bonding activities to build off-field chemistry, which has translated onto the field.
These bonding activities came at a good time, since recent inclement weather has prevented the team from practicing in its normal environment.
Troyan said what he is looking forward to most is better weather.
“We have been fighting the rain, and we have tarped the field so much,” Troyan said. “It has been really hard to get our work and practices in. We have been forced to go inside a bunch, so we are honestly looking forward to good weather because we enjoy spending our time together.”
The team next plays against Saint Joseph’s at home Wednesday at 3 p.m.