Andrew Nevins | Echo
As the air becomes warmer and jackets become lighter on Taylor's campus, the transition from winter to spring signals the start of softball season. For this year's team, the bar has been set even higher than it was for last season's team.
A second-place finish in the Crossroads League and a trip to the NAIA National Tournament was certainly not a failure for the 2017 squad. However, this season, the goal is much loftier.
"I think tasting that was so different because last year people told us, 'You can go to the tournament,' 'You can do this,' 'You can go to the World Series,' and we didn't really think that was possible," said senior first baseman Davis Carter. "Now that we've tasted that, it's definitely something we're driving for; we don't want to stop at the national tournament; we want to make it all the way to the Worlds, and so it's just like tasting that little bit causes you to have more motivation."
In order to improve on last year's success, team chemistry seems to be the focus.
Carter believes if they do not love each other well, then they will not win as many games. She wants to continually love the teammates around her.
"(Head coach Brad Bowser) always talks about living in freedom," added junior second basemen Hannah Castor. "I buy into that because we've been playing softball our entire lives, so just go out there and gel in everything we do, and then those little things will turn into better things in the tournament."
The Trojans started the season off right when they faced Union College in Kentucky last weekend. They won both games by a combined score of 17-3.
Carter believes the two games against Union were a great way to prepare for the tougher stretches of the season.
"Our coaches throw to us, but once you get into a game, it takes on a different standpoint, so I think just seeing that live pitching, and we did really well for our first weekend out; I think it's just gonna build from there," Carter said.
Castor thinks the games in Kentucky are indicative of how successful the team can be this season. She is optimistic that getting those two games out of the way helped everyone calm down and realize they are ready, and that if they play like that every game, they will be very successful.
Bowser said his squad played a team they should beat and did the little things necessary to get the job done. Despite the hot start, Bowser cautioned that it's a long season, and there is still a lot the team can continue to grow in. He said he wants to see his team grow and become better each day, and the goal is to be better at the end of the season than they are now.
Bowser continued by saying games are a byproduct of the way the team practices and how hard they work. The team knows games are proof of the effort they give during the week and are ready to show the country how hard they have been working.
"We've already, from the beginning, been doing the little things right, and we're gonna just explode, I think, when we start playing regularly," Carter said. "So, I think it's just about putting the pieces together and continuing to work through those things."
The Trojans continue their season with a double-header against the University of Rio Grande on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. on Gudakunst Field.
"Photograph provided by Fayth Glock"