From lip gloss to Wawa Sizzlis, Penn baseball and softball do whatever it takes to stay hot.
Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their play, whether it’s by taking extra reps or looking back at game film. For the Quakers on the diamond, though, this includes being a bit superstitious and having fascinating game-day routines.
Baseball and softball are both games of streaks, so when you’re hot, you’re hot. Players want to do whatever it takes to ride that positive momentum for as long as possible. For both teams, it starts with their warm-up routines, and if the team is on a winning streak, the routine is always the same.
For baseball, the team warms up in three different groups, with one group hitting, one on the bases, and one in the field. After they lost their first three games against UNC Greensboro, the Quakers switched up their order. Since having a new order, the team has gone 5-1.
“We’ll probably keep that batting practice schedule in place, and we’ll try to ride it out as long as we can to keep winning,” senior catcher Matt O’Neill said.
For the softball team, their hair is a key part of their pregame routine, and most of the team keeps the same hairstyle all season long.
“The same people do each other’s hair every time and in the same way," senior third baseman Sarah Cwiertnia said. "I haven’t changed my game day hair ever.”
This season, Cwiertnia has been committed to two french braids pulled into a ponytail. She's entrusted her hair routine to sophomore pitcher Abigail Abramson, and she has no plans of switching the style anytime soon. On the other hand, junior baseball pitcher Christian Scafidi was going through a rough stretch last season and decided his hair was the thing that needed to change.
“I went to the barber and turned it into a mohawk, trimmed the beard down, and went out and pitched great the next time out,” Scafidi said.
Players also like to keep special items close to them that make them feel comfortable and relaxed while on the field. While throwing his warmup pitches, Scafidi wears three family-related wristbands on his right wrist. However, because of NCAA rules, he can’t wear them during the game, so he improvises by transferring the bands to his back right pocket, where they stay throughout the game.
For sophomore softball pitcher Tabitha Dyer, it's lip gloss that she keeps in her back right pocket. Since high school, she’s consistently reapplied the same type of Bath and Body Works lip gloss throughout the game.
Furthermore, before the competition on the field, the softball team has a game of its own in the locker room.
“We usually always play hacky sack. So if we have a good hacky sack game, then I think that's a good game premonition,” Dyer said.
Surprisingly, Wawa’s breakfast sandwiches have also played a large role in Scafidi’s college baseball career.
“On the days I pitch, I get breakfast from Wawa, the same two Sizzlis every time,” he said.
The routine started Scafidi's freshman year, when he lived near Wawa. He decided to go there for breakfast one morning and later pitched a great game. The morning of his next start, he remembered what he ordered and decided to order it again. Since then, he’s made both the sausage, egg, and cheese on a waffle and sausage, egg, and cheese on a croissant his game day breakfast. Even when pitching on the road, he does his best to recreate the sandwich with the breakfast items available in the hotel.
Finally, there’s the most famous baseball superstition that all players from high school to the MLB know: don’t talk about the no-hitter.
“It’s general baseball rules, nobody says a word about it,” O’Neill said. “Everybody knows, but the second you say something, you might as well be giving up a hit for the pitcher. It’s almost like clockwork.”
Unfortunately, that was the case for Scafidi last season.
“I was throwing a no-hitter, and a kid in the stands said, 'you know you have a no–hitter going,’ and I’m like, man, kid, don’t say that,” Scafidi said.
Two innings later, Scafidi gave up his first hit.
For a player, It’s hard to predict which routine is going to work, but when they find what makes them successful, they stick to it. In a game of streaks, Penn baseball and softball are extra careful to stick to the routine that keeps them on a hot streak.