Pacific conference champions fall to Penn State, Ohio State
The UC Davis women’s club softball team played in the National Club Softball Association (NCSA) World Series in Columbus, Georgia from May 19 to 21. Arriving in Georgia as the Pacific Conference champions, the Aggies were seeded second for pool play. Once bracket games began on the second day of the tournament, the Aggies fell first to Penn State and then to Ohio State.
In order to qualify for the NCSA World Series, the Aggies needed to become one of the top two teams in the Pacific Conference. The Aggies were undefeated in the regular season and were crowned champions of both the Pacific Conference Central Region and later of the Pacific Conference after defeating Grand Canyon University 5-4.
In Columbus, after pool play, the now tenth-seeded Aggies lost to Penn State 9-3 and 11-1 to Ohio State.
“To be honest, the biggest thing with us this year was the traveling,” fourth-year human development major Alex Baez said. “[It] took a really big toll having to go that far. We were the only team from California. […] We just kind of had trouble meshing and we just couldn’t hit the ball. We couldn’t be as consistent as we were during the season. The teams we were seeing, we couldn’t get used to them as quickly.”
The UC Davis club softball team is entirely student-run, unlike other club teams that enlist the help of outside coaches and managers. The team’s current president, Baez, also acts as a head coach, alongside the team’s vice president. Baez and Jodi Hinojosa, a third-year biological sciences major, both believe this to be a contributing factor to the lack of communication on the field at Nationals.
“This year was really the first time we had to deal with having a player who’s also coaching, who’s on the field and doing everything,” Hinojosa said. “[…] I think people had a hard time adjusting to that because they didn’t really know how to react. I think Alex [Baez] was very stressed. It’s so hard to be out on the field, have to come back in the dugout, calm down, and make the line-up or have to make substitutions.”
The Aggies are already looking forward to next year. Looking ahead, the team has its eyes set on making some improvements.
“I think a lot of [our post-season performance] was just being aware of that big change we had to deal with,” Hinojosa said. “I think that really threw us off a lot because by the end, you could feel there was a little bit of tension in the dugout. So I think one thing I really want to improve on is having that communication across the team, so that everyone is on the same page and we can all calm down a little bit. That way, if we’re not doing well, we’re not pinning that on any players and we’re taking a loss as a team.”
Since the club is completely student-run, the players must be dedicated to all aspects of the game. Officers not only play on the field, but also orchestrate game schedules and fundraisers, communicate with the NCSA League, handle paperwork, and coordinate fields and umpires. Although this a lot for any college student to take on, the passion for the game and the team make it all worthwhile.
“The seniors last year were so awesome,” Hinojosa said. “Our president was just so welcoming. Probably 20 minutes into the tryout, I knew I wanted to do it. I was really excited about joining the team.”
Written by: Liz Jacobson — email@example.com