Softball team using fall for improvement

Eric Smith

Exhibition games and practice are never exciting, but for many good teams, that’s where all the games are won. Nicole Perkuhn and the Washburn softball team are counting on that philosophy to pay off, using this time to prep them for the spring.

“I think the thing I like most about fall ball is that you’re really able to focus on where you need to get better,” said Perkuhn, senior pitcher/first base. “You’re able to just play a lot more relaxed and focus a lot more what you need to do in the spring. In spring you can’t focus on what you need to do to get better.”

The Lady Blues continued their fall stretch of exhibition games this past weekend in a tournament in Emporia going 3-0 against Ottawa, Hutchison Junior College and Allen County Community College.

“The first game we hit the ball really well and scored [a lot] of runs,” said Perkuhn, a Washburn Rural graduate. “So that was really good. That was where we wanted to be. The second two games, our offense wasn’t as strong as we wanted it to be but we had really good defense.”

Perkuhn said the team also had good pitching performances in the last two games and did a good job of finishing out the game, something they’ve had a problem with in the past. The success could be contributed to the fact that she said the team almost has a different mindset and is more relaxed in the fall season

“In the fall, you want to win, like you’re ultimate goal is to win, but there is not that pressure of this is going to make or break your season,” she said. “Your focus is a lot different.”

The Lady Blues began meeting for the fall during the first week of school and began practice shortly after. While the team can only have 24 official group practices, it meets on an individual basis, as well.

The Lady Blues will next play in exhibition games against MIAA foes Emporia State and Central Missouri as well as a contest versus Kansas on Oct. 3 and 4 in Lawrence.

The last team practice of the fall for Washburn will be the weekend of October 10. For the remainder of the fall semester, the Lady Blues will still meet individually to condition and lift weights, as well as work on hitting.

“Fall season really is kind of almost like a test to see where you’re at, going into break and then going into the season,” said Perkuhn. “It kind of shows your strengths and your weaknesses and what you need to work on going into winter break.”

With the loss of several players, and the addition of many in the offseason, the Lady Blues are using this time to get more acquainted with each other.

“This year we have a lot of newcomers so fall has been really good to see as far as team chemistry on the field and as far as working together. And like communication on the field,” said Perkuhn. “That’s been a huge part just communicating especially like infield and outfield. So the fall’s been really been key for that.”