Softball puts all pieces together for strong season

Option2By Miranda Holloway
Sports Editor
The scene at a home softball game against Glenbrook North was similar to that of most games in the area. Spectators lined the cold metal bleachers, supported their daughters, sisters or friends. Dads yelled tips from the sidelines which were met by either slow nods or rolled eyes.
A team leader, senior first baseman Allison Malewig, in this case, reminded the rest of the fielders of the number of outs. Sophomore pitcher Hanna Lythberg could hear her teammates encourage her with “good pitch, now just one more” and “that’s alright, you’ll get the next one in”.
After that, the team huddled together on the bench for warmth, chatter and to cheering on senior Amanda Mlikan, who was up to bat.
It was games like this that helped the girls finish with a record of 14-20 and take second in their conference.

The girls became more than teammates, according to junior outfielder Mary Styzek; they also became friends.
“Last year we weren’t as good of friends, and that translates onto the field, ” Styzek said, “we all trust each other and know each other’s roles now. We aren’t winning for ourselves.”
Last year, the girls were more divided, this year, however, they were together outside of softball regularly.
The team, which finished in fourth place in the MSL East, found that more than just practice contributed to the success of the team.  By building a stronger team bond in the off season, the girls saw a change in their play. Coach Brenda Martin believes that “it took them [the girls] a year to prioritize.”
Overall, this season, the girls simply “had a better attitude,” according to Malewig.
The team visited Sunrise Lake Outdoor Educational Center where the girls spent the day doing team building and trust exercises, which, according to coach Brenda Martin, “teaches [the girls] how everyone is different,” and how everyone has something to contribute to the team. Malewig said the girls simply “had a better attitude” as well.
Although friendship allows for better support, it can hinder practice and games if the girls are too social or lose focus according to coach Martin.
“They have to understand that you have to separate friends from competition,” Martin said.
In previous seasons girls were able to qualify for 15 spots on the varsity team. This year, however girls were only eligible for 12 spots on the team.  This meant that in order to stay competitive girls had to stay focused and work as hard as they could to secure a spot on the line up.
Despite the added pressure this year, Martin holds that the girls got their priorities in order and that the bond of the team paid off. They realized that working together can set them apart from the rest of their conference.
“Girls want individual recognition, and you do not get individual recognition without team recognition.”