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Junior Sarah Cwiertnia and Penn softball open their season in Florida for the ninth straight season. 

Credit: Bonnie Mendelson

Penn softball looks to start their season off hot in sunny Florida. 

This spring break, the Quakers will head to Clearwater, Fla. to play their opening games of the season in the USF Under Armor Invitational. The Quakers will play a total of 11 games in a span of just seven days.

“Eleven games is a lot. You get tired, you get sore. We just need to have fun and enjoy the moment — take it is as it comes,” junior utility player Jessica England said. 

Last season, Penn finished with the second best overall record in the Ivy League with a final record of 22-18. This season, however, the new-look Quakers have a lot to prove.

“We’re a very different team from last season to this season,” England said. “We lost our best player [from] last year, so we’re sort of starting over now ... in a good way.”

This road trip will also be the first action for the eight new freshmen. 

And while there won't be any other Ivy League teams at the invitational, it does feature a wide range of excellent competition.

“The hardest team that we are going to face [this week] is definitely Florida State,” England said. 

The Seminoles (12-4) are currently ranked 12th in the nation and are a strong national title contender. This matchup will be an excellent test early on in the season for Penn.  

“We’re all very excited about going to Florida,” England said. “It’s the first games of the year, which is really exciting. We have a lot of new faces this year, so it’s going to be really exciting seeing how they are going to contribute this year.”

Over the long road trip, the short term goal is to improve every game. According to the players, the goal is to finish the invitational in mid-season form. With the first Ivy League competition coming the weekend after break, it is crucial that the team is successful in this goal.

“It’s our first outing, so by the end we should be more in game shape and be ready for Ivy play the following weekend,” England said. 

Starting on March 2 against Central Michigan, the Red and Blue will take the first steps to start off a long season.