By DENISE SEYFER
Old man winter hasn’t stopped Mount Mary University women’s softball team from starting the season, nor has losing coach Melinda Wallace this past fall. As cold temperatures and snow continue to trap people indoors, the team trudges to the Bloechl Center to prepare for what it hopes to be a winning record.
Tim Edwards, who assisted with coaching last year, will take over as interim head softball coach for the 2014 season.
“I am excited to have coach Edwards leading the softball program,” said Athletic Director Marc Heidorf. “His organization, planning and especially recruiting efforts since taking over are exciting, as they have been infectious to the rest of the athletics department. Right now, my sole focus is on filling our department with as many people willing to take ownership in the building process … Coach Tim has certainly done that in the preseason and I am confident he will be able to carry his enthusiasm into the regular season.”
Edwards, a certified club softball coach with the American Softball Association since 2006, brings his career record of 117-48 and recruiting skills to help inch the team and the program forward.
After a 0-19 season last year, Edwards remains hopeful about achieving a winning season.
The team will have seven returning players on the roster this year. Three senior players include: Katie Wolk, infield; Kathryn Reynoso, pitcher and utility player; and Nicole Ordway, catcher and infield.
However, pitching may continue to be a problem this year.
“Pitching is the most important part of the game and we do not have regular pitchers,” Edwards said. “We are going to struggle at that.”
The weather creates additional obstacles, forcing the team to practice indoors where throws and fly balls are limited distance-wise.
“It’s really hard to transition from drills and with new kids to a field for the first time,” Edwards said. “Whatever we do here [in the gym] is so limited. Their arms always look stronger. It’s easier to get to fly balls.”
In order to better prepare the team for regular season games, the team is heading out-of-state for two tournaments this March.
The Blue Angels travel to Marquette, Mich., to play in the Finlandia Dome Tournament, March 10-11. Next, they will head to Fort Myers, Fla., in order to play the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic on March 10-13. The Blue Angels will play eight games in four days.
The team returns to Mount Mary to host the Mount Mary Triangular on March 22. It will play against Dominican University and Northland College.
“The softball team going to Florida was an important thing this year,” Heidorf said. “From a weather point certainly, but to give the players something back for the work they are putting in.”
These tournaments also allow Mount Mary’s athletic program to remain competitive with other local NCAA Division III schools. When teams participate in out-of-state tournaments, it aids recruiting efforts.
Due to new NCAA regulations for women’s softball, which state that teams must have an outfield fence, this year’s home games will be played at Kulwicki Park in Greenfield.
According to Heidorf, the athletic department wants to promote student participation and attendance at off-campus softball games. Some options being discussed are using Mount Mary athletic department’s Facebook page and website, http://mtmaryathletics.com, to provide directions or set up transportation options.
“It is very valuable to have fans at games due to the fact we don’t even have our own field,” said junior pitcher and catcher Katie Edwards, daughter of coach Edwards. “We don’t get the privilege to have people just walk outside and watch our games…having support really helps us push forward in the games.”