Over spring break, Penn softball will be in sunny Florida, not for a getaway but rather a long 10-game stretch to open the season.
The Quakers will face off against Middle Tennessee and Furman on Friday, Ball State and Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, and Troy on Sunday. The Red and Blue will follow that up with games next week against Boston College and Central Michigan on Tuesday, Penn State and St. John's on Wednesday, and Western Michigan on Thursday. All of these games will be played in Clearwater, Fla. at the USF-Clearwater Parks and Recreation Invitational Tournament.
One of the Quakers' most notable games will be against Troy (12-5), which has had a strong start to the season. The Trojans will not be an easy out, and Penn will have to work hard to pick up a win. The last time the Red and Blue faced Troy was in 2014, so the matchup will be an unfamiliar one for both teams.
On the other hand, Central Michigan (4-6) is not a new face for the Red and Blue. The Quakers have lost to the Chippewas for two consecutive seasons, and they will try to buck that trend in their seventh game of the tournament.
Junior pitcher and outfielder Jennifer Brann has high hopes for what the team can achieve this season.
“[We're] focusing on all aspects of the game [because] in the past we’ve been more of a hitting team, but [we're] making sure that all four aspects of softball really come together, and hopefully that’ll help us win an Ivy League championship,” Brann said.
Brann, who is also a team captain, believes the Quakers have come a long way from where they were last season.
“I've definitely seen just a growth of maturity, being able to see others and be happy for other people’s successes rather than being more jealous that they were playing,” Brann said. “[We've had] an overall growth at the plate, on the mound, [and] on the field."
The optimism doesn’t end with veterans of the team; new players, like freshman outfielder Emma Nedley, are feeling it as well.
“I feel that I can add speed and just energy," she said. "I’m very high energy all the time and I go 110 percent, and I feel like that’s something new to the team.”
Nedley is looking forward to enjoying the eight-day trip with her teammates.
“I just keep hearing so much of the road trips in the past, and I can’t wait for me to experience it with my team," she said.
With a long first season ahead for Nedley, there are a lot of exciting moments to come.
“I’m super excited to play Ivy League schools and people that I know and that I’ve been playing against my entire life and foster relationships that I know I’ll have for the rest of my life," she said.
Despite the long road ahead, the Red and Blue are feeling optimistic about what’s to come and will be looking for a hot start in Florida.