By: Knox Hargis – Staff Writer
Dayton’s softball team (29-27, 13-10) completed its season May 10 with consecutive losses to St. Louis and George Mason in the Atlantic-10 Tournament.
“It was a bittersweet end,” said head coach Cara LaPlaca, who just completed her 10th season as the head coach. “We obviously wanted to go farther, but we also were proud of the strong individual performances we saw on the field and feel we have a good foundation moving forward.”
Senior pitcher Gabrielle Snyder believes the team may have lost a bit of their identity along the way, which caused the team to struggle at times.
“Moving forward the team really needs to come together,” said Snyder.
The Flyers did come together this season; it just could have been better at times.
They will have to replace a heavy bat next year as Snyder just recently graduated. Snyder led the team in batting average (.429), hits (78) and home runs (7). She is also an Academic All-American and will play professional softball in the European League, according to LaPlaca.
Replacing Snyder’s bat will not be easy, but replacing her leadership role may be an even bigger challenge. Snyder believes rising Junior Madi Maloof has a chance to fill that role.
“Madi had several opportunities down the stretch of the season and she began to capitalize on them. She really played well when we needed her to and I think she will continue to improve,” said Snyder.
Another player to watch next season is upcoming sophomore infielder Julia Blarr. As a freshman, Blarr batted .205 and added 13 RBIs.
Coach LaPlaca is excited for Blarr to step up and hit the ball well next year, and she also believes upcoming junior catcher Kyle Davidson will step in and fill a leadership role. Davidson played in every game this season except one and recorded a .317 batting average while adding 22 RBIs and two home runs.
The Fordham University Rams (46-17, 18-5) have now won five consecutive A-10 tournament titles and swept the Flyers earlier in the season.
“We are going to need a little bit a luck going forward to defeat Fordham as far as injuries go,” said Coach LaPlaca. “We have a good chance next year as Fordham graduates several seniors, but we must limit their offense.”
The Flyers only lost by one run in each of the three games against the Rams, making it sting a little bit worse this year.
“Fordham can really hit the ball well so we need to pitch to their weaknesses,” said Snyder.
UD clinched its third consecutive winning season this year, which has never been done by the softball team. The foundation has been laid, now LaPlaca looks for the Flyers to conquer the next milestone and take advantage of the opportunities given.
Photo courtesy of Jenna Willhoit/Dayton Athletics Communications