By Greg Dudek
On paper, the Bridgewater State University softball team’s inexperience is easy to see.
With 12 freshman and three transfer players, the Lady Bears have a completely new makeup, but have not let their inexperience show on the diamond thus far this season.
Bridgewater State is currently 6-6 and with many new faces, the Bears are in a favorable spot.
“When we are playing, you wouldn’t know that more than half of the team is new players,” said junior outfielder Jessica Laudati, who is just one of five returners. “Many of the new girls have stepped up to the plate or fielded a ball with the same amount of confidence as the returners have, which is an incredible thing to see.”
Early in the season, these games have been important to the team as they go through a feeling out process and start to build that cohesiveness they will need to win games.
“With such a young team, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of how we would compete,” said junior shortstop Jocelyn Bettencourt. “This team proved me wrong and made me doubt no more. This team has more chemistry within it than any other team we’ve had here at Bridgewater.”
The Lady Bears used their Florida road trip to start creating some of that team chemistry and got some wins along the way as they went 6-4.
Two of the four games they lost in Florida were by a combined three runs, but they ended up getting a win over Bethany Lutheran College, 8-3, and then finished the road trip with a 9-0 win over Wentworth Institute of Technology.
“I think we could have won a few of the close games we ended up losing, but we put up good fights and we never gave up,” said senior pitcher and captain Amber White. “With more time and experience playing together, I don’t think we will have any problems winning close games like that in the future.”
Senior pitcher and captain Amber White powered the Lady Bears as she posted a 5-0 record and a .22 earned run average (ERA) over the course of the trip. For her performances, White earned Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Softball Pitcher of the Week and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Div. III New England Softball Co-Player of the Week honors.
“Each year I try to improve my pitching,” White said. “Whether that’s developing new pitches or picking up more speed. I worked hard in the offseason this year as I have done each year. I wouldn’t say this is the best I’ve ever pitched, but I hope to improve with the season and finish my final season pitching at my best.”
White isn’t the only returner leading by example, as Laudati has stepped up to solidify the Bears’ lineup. Laduati is currently batting .371 with eight runs batted in (RBI) to lead the team in both categories.
“Accepting the fact that not every at-bat will result in a hit, and letting a bad at-bat go before it brings me down has been a large part of my success,” Laudati said. “With each year, I have gained a better ability to critique my own batting, allowing me to figure out what I did right or wrong with each at-bat before I get up to the plate again.”
The Lady Bears have also received strong play from Bettencourt, sophomore third baseman Karissa Pagan and freshman third baseman Tara McCann.
With a young team, Bridgewater State is still learning the ropes of how to play together at the collegiate level though, as they dropped both games of a doubleheader to Wheaton College on Monday.
The setback will not stop this team from pushing forward though, as they look to prove that even with an almost entirely new team, they can still reach their goals.
“I think we have such a talented group of players this season, that I expect us to win MASCAC again this year,” White said.
The Lady Bears will travel to the University of Massachusetts at Boston for a doubleheader Thursday before they host Framingham State University in a doubleheader on Saturday.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.