Inside the Lady Vikings’ varsity softball team practice:Team hopes that working hard in practice will lead to success during games

There is an old saying that you “practice like you play.”  While games determine the team’s record and are the measure of success, practices are where it all starts. Practice is not only important to work on skills, but it is also important to build team chemistry.

The softball team starts off practice with a jog around Guggenheim  field a few times to warm up.

After that, the captains lead stretching followed by dynamic stretching.  Dynamic stretching includes running in place, lunges, and leg kicks.

After their stretches and warm-up, the team breaks up into infield and outfield drills.

These drills consist of ground balls, pop flies, and other strategies to improve defense.  Performing simple fielding exercises not only reinforces defensive muscle memory but also allow teammates to adjust to each other’s playing styles.  A shortstop who knows that an outfielder has a strong arm can adjust her cut off distance.

“Softball is a game of repetition.  We work the basic skills and focus on the mental aspects of the game.  Then we mix in a healthy dose of team building skills and activities,” said Head Coach Mr. Eric Sutz.

By working on team building activities, the Lady Vikings are trying to build a team that loves to work together and have fun, which can take some pressure off  of players during games. It is not uncommon to hear a chorus of encouragement from the team when a player makes a difficult play.

Keeping teams focused can be a very tough job as a coach.  The Lady Vikings coaches, Sutz and Ms. Patty Piacquadio, have made sure to keep the team focused on softball during every practice.

“They make us work really hard but while working we have a lot of fun,” said junior Alyssa Marshak. “We try to practice at every practice like we would play in a game.  We work extremely hard during practices and push ourselves because we’d rather make an error while practicing than in a game.”

After performing infield and outfield drills, the team runs around the bases, and prepares to hit off of live pitching to simulate a game situation.  Each player gets a chance to hit, and a rotation system is used to keep order.  This is helpful because it enables the team to practice in real game situations, but it is accepted if someone makes a mistake because it is the best way for them to learn.

Finally, the team circles up to talk about its plan for the next day of practice or the next game.  And to conclude practice, they do a cheer to help keep high spirits.  Of course, the most important part is not forgotten.  Clean up concludes a hard day’s work, and the girls get to go home after the bases, bats, and balls are all picked up and brought onto the bus.

The girls are embracing the fact that practices are instrumental in any team’s season.  While games ultimately leave the more lasting impression upon the season, practices are what make it all happen.

“Practices are the single best predictor of success.  The work and effort has to be put in between games in order to compete at the level we think we can,” said Coach Sutz.