April 4, 2016
While the rest of the student body hopped on flights to exotic places or drove home to see mom and dad, the softball team finished their midterms and prepared for their games over spring break.
The Mountain Lions swept Black Hills State in all three games on March 20 and split four games against Colorado Christian and Western New Mexico March 24 and 25.
After those games, the Mountain Lions are 16-12 overall and sitting at fourth in conference standings with a 13-10 record. The top eight teams make the RMAC Tournament.
“The girls haven’t been out of any of the games we have lost, it’s always been little things. But now we’re getting everyone on the same page,” said head coach Rikki Rothbauer.
Senior outfielder and pitcher Dani Fonseca explained that anything can change at the end of a game. She highlighted the 11-9
UCCS win against Black Hills State on March 20, when the Mountain Lions came back from a 9-2 deficit in three innings.
“It always comes down to the very last out and anything can change in a matter of a few batters,” she said. “The whole team gets into the game because it takes every single person in order to win.”
Fonseca explained that each game this season has been different. Rothbauer agrees, explaining that the season has been a quirky one.
“At the beginning our defense and pitchers were really strong and our hitting was a little behind,” Rothbauer said. “Now our hitters are hitting really well and our defense and pitchers are catching up.”
Fonseca is confident that the team has the stamina to finish the season higher in the RMAC standings than they are currently.
“We are sitting in fourth place and very comfortable with where we are heading into the second half of conference play.”
Rothbauer explained that when hitting was struggling the team changed their focus during practice. Hitting involves more individual drill work and that has allowed them to hone those skills.
She added that defense and pitching are different from hitting.
“It comes down to us getting ourselves situationally ready and getting the ball in quick. For the pitchers, it’s about simulating the lineups of the hitters they are going to see,” said Rothbauer. “They have to know who is a power hitter, who walks most, who strikes out and the lefties who try to beat the ball to first base.”
Rothbauer knows the season can wear on her players and explained that her main job is keeping them mentally strong and their confidence high.
“The good thing is we have been nowhere near peaking because only one side of our game has been good at different points. We’ve got to get the team going in the same direction at the same time.”
Fonseca understands her role in keeping the team focused on their goals during practices and games while remembering to have fun.
“We, as a team, do a lot better when the environment is fun and everyone is in a good mood. We spend so much time on the field and our season is so long that you can’t stay focused every practice and every game for the entire time. That just burns everyone out, you have to keep things fun and exciting.”
The Mountain Lions last series of home games will be April 16 and 17 against Metro State University at Mountain Lion Field at the Four Diamonds complex on Nevada.