@UConnSoftball on Twitter | 2017 Schedule
STORRS, Conn. – Another UConn softball season is close to its beginning, now just over two weeks away, but it has a different feeling than past seasons – due mainly to an eight-player freshmen class on a roster of 18 players.
The Huskies have just three seniors on the team – tied for the fewest of any team in the American Athletic Conference – in Kayla Doty, Valerie Sadowl and Taylor Townsend. It will be a freshmen-driven team.
“Things are definitely different. We have a huge freshmen class; it’s a different dynamic,” said Doty, a right-handed pitcher. “We’re excited about what (the freshmen) bring to the table.”
In 2016, 10 of 17 players were juniors or seniors – including the five-member senior class. In 2017, there are just six upperclassmen on a roster of 18. To Sadowl, it’s a big change.
“I feel a little older, but it’s still softball,” joked Sadowl, a redshirt senior infielder. “I came in with a class of six players, and they were definitely a big part of my career. It feels weird without them, but it’s still the same type of schedule.”
That schedule entails full-scale practices in the Shenkman Training Center on campus throughout the week, leading up to the season-opening FGCU Softball Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. from Feb. 10-12.
Recently back from winter break, the Huskies were given workout plans to follow from strength and conditioning coach Moe Butler while back home. Accountability partners were assigned to keep tabs on each other’s workout progress during the holidays.
“We received workout packets – about six to seven days a week working out, running and conditioning,” said Sadowl. “Our coaches also gave us some drills we should be doing based on positions.”
Upon returning to campus, the players were ready to get their hands dirty. Though it’s just practicing on turf for now, the Huskies are preparing each day for the opener – which will be the first for the eight newcomers.
“We have definitely seen freshmen step up, take on a role and become serious about competing for their spots,” said Doty. “They have shown great progress.”
Sadowl added, “All of them have definitely come in here ready to go, which helps the team. There are eight of them and they bring a big amount of personality to the squad.”
With just 16 days until the Huskies play a doubleheader against LIU Brooklyn and Florida Gulf Coast, the freshmen players are already getting praise from the upperclassmen. On Feb. 10, it all starts to count.