Behind Home Plate: Conference Tourney Time
Junior catcher Morgan Gross will be writing a year-long blog, letting readers in on the behind-the-scenes action of USF Softball. From fall practices, to preparing for spring, to hosting power schools like Michigan and Florida, Morgan will give an inside look on the team and season. Morgan is a mass communications major and is currently interning in the athletic video department. Here's her views from behind home plate:
We took a quick pit stop at home for 48 hours and just like that we are on the road again. I emptied my bag just to fill it the next day with the same clothes to head to East Carolina. The time is finally here for the most important weekend of the year: the conference tournament. We play Memphis at 10 am Thursday. Every game counts now. If we want to keep playing, we have to win every moment. Pitch by pitch. We have a chance to advance to regionals without the conference title bid but I prefer to win everything from here out. That way we don't leave it up to someone else to decide our fate.
“Don't make excuses. Make things happen. Make changes. Then make history.”
We have been through a lot this year. We have had injuries, bad luck and long days. But through all of that, we have grown together as a team. At the beginning of the season when things started to not go our way, we had two options; give up or keep going. We have had a lot of both. We have given in at times but we never gave up. We all come out everyday, put in the work and want to get better. The excuse of “injuries” to all of us doesn't matter anymore because we are finding out that even with the bad luck this year, we have still managed to get the job done! We have come together and shown people we are still a threat if we stay together. We may be underdogs this season but we are confident that we can come out on top and keep this season rolling!
Tuesday we had a typical USF practice full of grounders, hitting and base running but something was different about us. We call it PFP, which stands for pitcher fielding practice where we do infield drills for each position basically for about five minutes or so. We started doing this in conference I think and since it has become a somewhat daily routine. I enjoy it because I get to work on fielding bunts, turning force plays at the plate and practice throw downs to bags. I also love watching our infield work the ball and turn double plays at every bag. They have become more and more smooth throughout the season. I love it. It can be the longest 5 minutes of your life on the days that you're not on, but I truly believe it has helped our defense work a lot this year. You may think its ridiculous that Division I players need to take that many ground balls every day but it reminds me to not take a single play for granted. Each repetition is a chance to get better. If you mess one up, so what! Get another one but focus your effort all into that one play. The more success you have in practice where it doesn't necessarily matter, the better you'll be in a game when that one play is everything. Our game is a game of inches. Every single detail matters. It could be the difference between safe and out.
During Tuesday's PFP, I felt an energy I haven't felt in a very long time from our team. The chatter was a little low but the throws were bullets on point. Our pitchers started us off with little errors. They were almost perfect every time! They bounced off the mound, getting to balls most pitchers would never even dream of getting. Then it was my turn. I felt very smooth and clear minded for my entire round. This was again something I haven't felt through the whole drill in awhile. Then we moved to the rest of the infielders and they were phenomenal. Our middles got balls behind bags and made the famous Derek Jeter play over and over. It was awesome! After each play they all cheered and high fived showing support for everyone on the field. The energy was electric. It passed on to everyone getting a ball and soon it became flawless. Watching them gave me chills because the game was coming to us now. Coach and I looked at each other after the last outfielder threw in another perfect hopper to the plate and he said, “well I think we are ready kid what do ya think?” I smiled and knew we were about to find out what we are truly capable of this weekend.
Hopefully my gut feeling is spot on and as coach says, “the clouds will open this weekend.”
As always, catch ya on the flipside and Go BULLS!