The baseball and softball teams entered the season with different outlooks, as the former was coming off of a .500 season and the latter off of two consecutive one-win seasons. The men’s record so far is 9-21, while the women’s season record is 10-26.
Freshman baseball player Nick Pillar and softball freshman Tegan Doherty both agree that the best part of this season happened at the very beginning when the teams traveled to Florida.
“My favorite part of this season so far has been traveling to Winter Haven, FL over spring break and playing nine games while we were down there. It helped me connect more with some of my teammates and was an overall great time,” Pillar said.
While Doherty confirms that sentiment, she enjoyed the trip for different reasons.
“My favorite part of the season was Florida because it allowed me to see how far I had come. Before this year I was barely able to get through pitching a full game,” Doherty said. “In Florida I was the pitcher for almost the whole week. It was incredible to see how much stamina I had gained from weightlifting and training.”
Training and weightlifting is something that the softball team emphasizes and that Doherty has found especially different and essential to her time on the Prairie Fire softball team.
“The practice intensity and weightlifting is more difficult, but I can definitely see results,” Doherty said.
These results helped her pitch entire games and her teammates to have more endurance throughout practices and long doubleheader matches.
Doherty strongly believes that these improvements can lead into next season and that is what she is working towards Ñ a positive mindset toward the future with concrete goals.
“For next season I would like more control over my rise ball and I would like to be able to have more confidence in my drop. I have been working on these pitches at practice and in warm ups,” Doherty said.
Sophomore baseball player Brendan Powers has high hopes for the remainder of the men’s season and so far has been a little disappointed.
“This season did not go how any of us thought. We have so much talent but I think we lacked the ability to put our talents together to be successful,” Powers said.
That being said, he still maintains high hopes for the future. The fate of next season isn’t looking all bad, especially with the freshmen prospects that coach Jami Isaacson has recruited.
“Next season I am hoping for a much better year because we are bringing in a big freshman class who are ready to compete for starting spots and playing time,” Powers said. “I think this big class coming in will spark a competitiveness amongst our current players and will ultimately make us better.”
Powers has a lot of confidence in his team, realizing the full potential after being an essential part of the team the past two years.
“Once we put our talents together and figure out who we are as a team, we will be a top contender in the Midwest Conference,” Powers said.
Pillar also believes in the strength of the team. He believes that next season, it will definitely be possible to earn the conference wins. Though his hopes for this year have not panned out, Pillar maintains high expectations and beliefs in the talent of his teammates.
“My hopes for next season is that we’ll make a run for the conference title and hopefully win it next year,” Pillar said.
Pillar also elaborated on the ways the team could improve, including a strong belief in the mantra that defense wins games.
“I would like to see the stronger defense from our infield, because this year we had many young players without a lot of experience,” Pillar said.
When asked about who deserves MVP so far, Pillar confidently replied.
“I think the team’s MVP candidate would be Dalton James, our junior center fielder,” Pillar said. “He has been one of the players we rely on the most all season and he has always had a positive attitude, even in our darkest moments. He really leaves it all on the field and I’m proud to call him my teammate.”
James backed up Pillar’s praise with his optimism for the remainder of the season.
“[I hope] for us to go out and play hard and get a couple more wins. We are a much better baseball team than our record shows,” James said.
Despite the number of games the Fire let slip, James enjoys playing with a team of great guys and friends.
“Just going out and competing each and every day with some of my best friends,” James said.
There are lots of game moments that are memorable; memories James likes to hang on to through the tougher competitions.
“My favorite game moment this far is when I was up to bat with 2 outs at Cornell and we were down 1 run with runners on second and third, and I blooped a double into right center field that scored 2 runs and took the lead going into the bottom of the 9th inning,” James said.
As the seasons wrap up, the men’s baseball team is putting in the work on the field to help them finish up this season, and carry over into next season. The women have wrapped up their season with 10 wins, their best since the 2005 season. The men will compete in a series against Illinois College on May 5 and 6 to finish their season.