Florida is a popular Spring Break destination. You can catch some sun, go in the water and get some relaxation. Or you can play 10 games of softball in one week.
Penn softball is going with the latter route.
The Quakers will open their 2017 season with an action-packed trip down to the Sunshine State. This will be the team’s first chance to generate some positive momentum after a disappointing 2016. More importantly, it will be a major measuring stick for the team and a precious opportunity to gauge the makeup of the team before the games start to count in the Ivy League standings.
“A lot of what we’re looking for is to try to establish our lineup, what we’re gonna be utilizing when we start Ivy play against Harvard,” coach Leslie King said. “So we’ll be trying a lot of combinations, different batting lineups, different defensive combinations to try and figure out what works best for the teams so we can put out the best nine or 10 players we can against Harvard.”
“We use Florida to see where we’re at and see where our potential is going as a team,” senior captain Sydney Kranzmann added. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to assess what we have and what we need to work on, and get excited for Ivy League play, because, obviously, that’s our main focus.”
The Quakers will open on Friday with games against St. Bonaventure and Ball State. They will play Syracuse and Fort Wayne on Saturday and Towson on Sunday before getting the day off on Monday. On Tuesday they will face SIU Edwardsville and Central Michigan, then face off against Boston College and South Florida on Wednesday before finishing the trip with a game against Central Connecticut on Thursday.
Most of those teams, unlike the Quakers, have several games under their belts, but King isn’t too focused on that:
“I mean, it’s the same every year. We’re used to it. We’ll go down there and it’ll be our first game and usually the teams down there will be like 12, 15, 16, 18 games into their season. It is what is, we’re used to it, it’s not a big deal anymore.”
If the Red and Blue have a bit of rust going into the trip, they sure won’t by the time they get back to Philly.
“I think it’s a great way just to really get a lot of reps in, and it’s great for team bonding,” King said of the packed slate. “I mean, it’s not easy on the body, especially for the older players. But, I think it’s great to get a ton of reps in, especially because we haven’t played really competitively since last April, so this is a great way to get started.”
And rust isn’t the only thing the Quakers will be shaking off. Teams up north also suffer from cabin fever.
“Being in the Bubble [Penn’s indoor complex] in February, it’s a tough month, it’s really a grind,” Kranzmann said. “We’re all really looking forward to being outside and having some beautiful weather, and, hopefully, doing a really good job of bringing everything that we can.”
But don’t worry that the team won’t get to have any fun over their Spring Break.
“Usually as a team, we break up into different hotel room groups and we do skits,” Kranzmann said. “We make fun of ourselves... It’s like five different skits, and we usually do in front of the parents and the rest of the team. It’s a great energy booster.”
“We do a couple other things,” King added, “but I don’t want to give the game away.”
Let the games begin.
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