Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
With only one week left until their first game, the Berry softball team hopes to continue building the program’s success into the upcoming spring season.
Last year, the Vikings had a record-breaking season, winning their third straight Southern Athletic Association Championship title and playing all the way through the regional game in the NCAA tournament. According to head coach Cori Thiermann, their performance has grown the name of Berry softball, but both coaches and players agree that this success is a challenge to work harder and go farther this spring.
“They are working hard in the offseason and outside of practice time and doing all the little things right,” Thiermann said. “As a coaching staff, we are really excited to see what is going to happen because we know we have the passion.”
Thiermann noted that the graduated seniors were major contributors, and believes this year’s seniors will be key contributors as players and role models for the team. Moreover, the freshman class has shown athleticism and promise to live up to this season’s challenges by proving themselves in the offseason.
Senior pitcher Kassie Howard and freshman Bayleigh Masterson said that the offseason consisted of several weight and running challenges, but their hard work took place outside of the weight room as well. Through the short fall season, the team put several hours a week into team bonding, community service and study hall, which led them to the highest athletic team GPA last semester: a 3.49 average.
According to Howard and Masterson, the team’s community service projects included work with Habitat for Humanity and the Rome Braves Miracle Field. Additionally, team bonding events consisted of scavenger hunts, BOLD ropes course, leadership and communication training and dining together. Thiermann believes their drive on and off the field makes for more confident players and stronger team chemistry.
“It’s like a big family in such a short period of time,” Masterson said.
Howard and Masterson both noted their coach’s push for academic excellence and involvement in the Berry community.
“It’s great to be well rounded,” Thiermann said. “We push our girls in everything we do whether in the weight room or on the field, but it really is important they are getting the most out of their career here at Berry.”
Players and coaches hope to surpass the precedent set last year and win a national title, but the strategy is to take the season step-by-step.
“We are trying to take it on game at a time and focus on the task in front of us,” Howard said.
Thierman’s immediate goal is to find out who their team is and how they are going to function. The Vikings were invited to the Nation Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic, which Thierman believes will be a good tell as to where the team stands. The Vikings will face six of the top 25 teams in the country in Tuscon, Az., on March 2-4.
“Wins are just a product of doing the process the right way” Thiermann said.
For Berry softball, this process consists of supporting each other, building confidence, and enjoying each game on the field and from the sidelines.
“If you’re not playing, you want to be the biggest supporter of the person in your position so it helps them and helps you push yourself,” Howard said.
The Vikings will kick off the season on Feb. 6, facing Covenant College at home.