It has been a painful stretch for the Clarion University softball team.
They’ve dealt with losing season after losing season and in the basement of the PSAC West year after year.
In comes first-year head coach Cheryl Peterson to try and change this team’s tumultuous history.
“Without a doubt, we came in at a good time,” Peterson said, “Getting that conference win is a confidence booster, and we have the senior class who has that leadership quality to lead our team through the season.”
Even though it resulted in only a four-win season, Clarion still has some momentum to build off of, earning their first PSAC win for the first time in 56 games in a sweep of Slippery Rock University last April.
The third conference win came in a split with Seton Hill University a week later.
Building that momentum with a strong senior class, clearly will and should be the approach to bring the team to a winner.
One of those seniors leading the way this season is pitcher Shawnna Crago.
Crago led the team last year with a 3.76 ERA.
“She’s constantly upbeat and a good vocal player to have to support the team on and off the field,” Peterson said.
To win games, pitching, defense and timely hitting is key, obviously.
The pitching improved greatly last season with a team ERA of 4.94, but Clarion still committed 77 errors last season.
As a team, Clarion hit .213.
Those are the two areas Clarion needs to improve upon drastically.
Defensively, Peterson brings a conservative approach, wanting her players to get back to the fundamentals to improve.
After watching some games over, Peterson feels the team was sometimes too aggressive, leading to the struggles in the field last season.
Offensively, she brings an aggressive style, likes the team’s speed on the bases and will look to take plenty of chances.
“The big perk about being the underdog is that no one expects a ton from us from a conference perspective,” Peterson said, “We can take some risks that haven’t been taken in the past because we’re looking for those wins and a lot of those wins will be upsets for us.”
Offensively, junior Christina Tressler will be looked at to lead the way, coming off last season hitting .383 with two home runs and 13 runs batted in.
Sophomore Casey Wilcox will also be critical at the plate for Clarion coming off last season leading the team with three homers.
Senior Taylor Powell will look to bounce back at the plate after a tough season last year hitting only .202.
As the new season begins with a new leader, Peterson holds high expectations for this season to be a successful one, setting the motto for this season.
“Our goal for the season is to make the PSAC tournament,” Peterson stated, “Building off last year’s conference win, we want to keep splitting with teams instead of getting pushed over. We need to take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, and not think big picture.”