By Delainey Kein, Staff Writer

Softball player batting in the gym

UMF Softball Player Practicing in the Gym (Photo by Chelsea Lear-Ward)

    The coach and co-captain of The University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) softball team agree that despite the difficulties of having both a young team and dealing with Maine’s unpredictable weather, the women will have a season as successful, if not more so, than last year’s.

    Cynthia Pratt, head coach of the softball team and Assistant Athletic Director of UMF, said that although it is still early in the season she feels confident in her team. “I am feeling optimistic at this point,” Pratt said “It is kind of early to tell but I think we have a lot of potential.”

    Pratt has been coaching UMF softball for six years. Last year, the team’s overall record was 11-16. She said that the most important aspects of practice are, “good pitching and good defense, making plays and not committing errors.” Committing errors is something Pratt has her team practice hard to avoid. “Don’t give up too many unearned runs,” she said. “If a team is going to beat you, you want them to earn it not to just give it to them.”

    Devin Fitzgerald, senior captain of the softball team, said she feels excited about the upcoming season, “We have a lot of girls which will be hard, but its great because everyone is really talented. We have a lot of potential there” said Fitzgerald.

    Fitzgerald has been playing softball since she was seven. “It is my favorite sport,” she said.  “Always has been.” Fitzgerald said that over the years, she has played just about every position, but here at UMF, she is set at second base. “They describe the second baseman as the smartest person on the field because you have to be ready to cover every base,” she said. “There are a lot of mental things going on.”

    Both Pratt and Fitzgerald voiced their concern about the unpredictable weather of Maine. “Its absolutely terrible,” said Fitzgerald. “We are in the gym upstairs and there is just not enough room for us. The cage takes up a quarter of the gym. Pitchers take up one side and 18 girls are on the other side.  Just everything is different between the elements of being inside compared to outside. It is definitely a tough adjustment when we move to outside.”

    Pratt agreed with Fitzgerald about the difficulty of dealing with the weather.“Playing a spring sport in central Maine is difficult and the people that do should be given a lot of credit for their resiliency for working indoors and adapting,” said Pratt. “It isn’t easy, but for the people that love the sport they make the most of the difficult situation that is presented to them.”

    Not only does the team need to deal with the weather, but they are also making due with the fact that there is a lot of learning to be done since the team is so young.  “We’re definitely younger, we only have three seniors and we graduated some key players in our lineup,” said Fitzgerald. “But we have a pretty big sophomore class that I think is ready to step up.”

    Pratt followed up Fitzgerald’s thought by mentioning that the team’s number one pitcher, Emily Soule, is only a sophomore.

    Pratt and Fitzgerald were both quick to say that Husson University is the team’s biggest rival.  Pratt said, “Husson has won the championship in softball 5 years in a row.  They are the team to beat.”   Fitzgerald commented on the team’s attitude toward Husson “I think there is a overall dislike for that University. We are always eager to beat them.”

    The UMF softball team’s season opener is on March 31st against Gordon College. Depending on conditions of the field, the first home game will be on Saturday April 5th where students can cheer on the team at Prescott Field.