Spring break brought Blue Streak softball to Kissimmee, Florida to participate in the Division III bracket of the annual Rebel Games.
The team played a total of 10 games splitting their record in half at 5-5, a decent beginning for an up and coming squad.
Batting a collective average of .335, the girls racked up a total of 57 runs throughout the week.
Several of the games came down to less than 10 runs between teams, placing two of the Streaks’ losses at a very close gap. Much to their satisfaction, however, all five wins were taken by eight or more runs.
The Streaks’ wins included defeating Husson College 8-0, Muhlenberg College 10-2, Bethany College 12-0, the US Merchant Marines 8-0, and Eastern University 9-0.
Anticipating a successful upcoming season is Head Coach Gretchen Weitbrecht. Weitbrecht has just entered her 17th year with the Blue Streaks.
“Last weekend we returned 5-5 but there were three games that we were in position to win and let slip away,” said Weitbrecht.
“Our focus should be on learning to win the close games and keep leads when we have them.”
The Streaks finished last season with a record of 19-21, marking the first season under .500 in three years.
Still, the team has left the 2006 season in the past and plans to focus intently on the season ahead.
Adding to an experienced and diversely positional team are six freshmen.
“We’re young but we have a good core of starters and we feel comfortable playing with one another, so hopefully that will give us support to play the best we can,” said sophomore catcher Jamie Smrdel.
Freshman pitcher Samantha Thompson contributed to six strikeouts against St. Francis along with senior Betsy Rafferty in game one of the tournament.
She also had an impressive eight strikeouts in seven pitched innings against Bethany College.
Thompson also registered her second win with six strikeouts against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
“As a pitcher I have to bring the team together and have faith in them to back me up no matter how I’m pitching,” said Thomspon.
Freshman Laura Boselovic made her John Carroll debut pitching her first win against Muhlenberg with three strikeouts in five innings.
Junior Barbie Lewis came in relief and combined for a one-hit shutout against Husson.
Boselovic pitched her second win in the last game of the tournament against Eastern University, allowing only three hits.
Julie Marlowe, another freshman, is a key offensive contributor to this year’s team. With two RBI and a double early in the week against Muhlenberg, her streak did not end there.
Marlowe had two additional RBI, a double, and a triple in game 10 against Eastern University along with eight additional hits, batting a collective .500 average throughout the week.
Returning Blue Streaks include Smrdel who bats a .462 average with 11 homeruns in the 2006 season. She was also second team All-OAC last season and will contribute defensively as well.
Over the course of the week, Smrdel had six RBI, and seven additional hits, two being doubles, batting an average of .571. Still, she remains modest.
“I think each of us contribute to our team. I don’t think there is one person who stands out more than anyone else,” said Smrdel.
“We all do our jobs, and each of us doing our part is what makes us a team.”
This year’s team is led by Rafferty, and senior infielder Alisha Zapor, according to Weitbrecht.
Zapor batted the 2006 season with a .336 average and will have a strong offensive impact this season.
She had two RBI and a double in game two against Husson, leading the team to a victory early in the game.
Rafferty finished last year’s season with a .289 batting average: 24 hits and four doubles. This past week she went 3-4 against Bethany College scoring two runs and a triple.
“Florida was a setting in which we looked at multiple lineups defensively,” said Weitbrecht.
“Our next step is to settle in on a starting line-up to provide some consistency on the field for our players.”
With spring break past, expectations for the rest of the season include winning all non-conference games in preparation for the OAC schedule.
“The OAC looks to have eight teams that are strong and it will once again come down to winning the close games in the conference,” said Weitbrecht.
Due to inclimate weather, the Blue Streaks’ home opener last Sunday against Wittenberg College was moved to Wittenberg.
The team fell short by a run in the first game to end it 7-6.
However, game two proved to be a success as the Streaks pulled out a win 7-4.
The Blue Streaks are on the road for their next two non-conference games and will play their home-opener at Bracken Field on Thursday, March 29 against Wooster at 3:00 p.m.