The University of Dayton softball team will open its fall exhibition schedule at home Saturday, Sept. 15, against Miami University and Northern Kentucky University.
Head coach Cara LaPlaca said that, as far as the team is concerned, the games against NKU and Miami are just as much about mental readiness as they are physical.
“It’s really kind of a balance,” she said. “We want to see how our players perform in pressure situations … but we want them to be able to execute the X’s and O‘s [of our game plan].”
Now in her sixth season at UD, LaPlaca said that the eight freshman newcomers will be expected to contribute alongside the veterans.
“This is a really strong class with a lot of depth,” she said. “They’re very talented and have really embraced what we do and how we do things.”
According to senior outfielder Kathleen Maloof, the team is looking forward to seeing what the new players bring to the table.
“We’re excited to get together and on the field with the freshmen,” she said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they contribute and help us work together as a team.”
Much like her coach, Maloof said she believes this team can do big things if given the chance. She also noted, however, that taking that next step is all about good teamwork.
While all the players on the team enjoy playing with each other, the team wants to win too, she said.
“Last year, this team didn’t finish where it wanted to,” Maloof said, referring to UD’s season-ending series to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as the team did not make the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. “As a senior this year, I personally think we can come together and do great things.”
Maloof, one of four seniors for the Flyers, led the team in runs scored (23) and home runs (7) last season. The team went 22-29 last year, including 9-6 at home. It also graduated five players, including infielders Lauren Nacke and Brandy Brown, who was named the team’s MVP and an A-10 All-Conference Second Team performer.
On the mound, UD returns three pitchers, led by senior Sydney Cicchetti. Junior Alysha Isaacson and sophomore Kayla English both excelled in 2012 and will be expected to do much of the same this season.
“Alysha and Kayla bring a lot to our team, as does Sydney,” said LaPlaca. “We are hoping they can [all] be great for us on the circle.”
In 2012, Isaacson went 5-10 while English finished 10-10, but neither had an earned run average over five.
During the regular season in 2012, Dayton fell to Miami 9-0 on Mar. 16 and 8- 0 on Mar. 17 in Oxford, Ohio at the Miami Invitational.
With the first pitch against the Redhawks coming at 1 p.m., at UD Softball Stadium, the squad will be vying for fans against football, which opens its home schedule at the same time on the other side of Edwin C. Moses Boulevard at Welcome Stadium.
“We seem very motivated and everyone is very encouraging,” said Maloof. “When we get out on the field, you can see that we’re working hard, but also having a good time.”