The 2013-14 season is one of “news” for the Rambler softball team. After all, they are in a new conference and have new talent joining the team. Loyola was hoping to come out strong this season, to show their new set of opponents what they have in store, but they have stumbled out of the gates. The team is only 4-9 so far.
This is the first season the Women’s Softball team will be competing in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Valley’s preseason poll ranked the Ramblers at No. 6 out of 10 in the conference, with University of Northern Iowa taking the top spot.
However, senior pitcher Brittney Gardner isn’t letting the ranking get her down, saying, “It’s just a number and it doesn’t really matter to us. We’re coming in new and we’re going to give it all we got. I like being the underdog and that’s fine. It’s more fun being the underdog.”
Head Coach Missy Beseres agrees with Gardner.
“It’s kind of fun being a surprise, the wild card, that a lot of the teams don’t know us,” Beseres said. “I think that we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Nagel is hopeful that the team will go far in the conference, but she knows it will take a lot of hard work to get there.
“We’ll work hard at practice to be the best players that we can be.”
The first month-and-a-half of the team’s games have been played on the road.
Gardner says the impact that these games have had on the team is positive.
“It’s really exciting to get out of Chicago with the weather that’s going on,” she said. “We just want to play so bad.”
Beseres also enjoys being on the road.
“This is a good team bonding part of the season,” she said.
Beseres said this team bonding will help the players on the field.
The team faces a tough preseason schedule of away games that will set them up for the caliber of the teams they will face in the MVC.
“We’re on a bigger [stage] than the Horizon League,” Beseres said. “The girls are very capable of competing in this league.“
Gardner echoed Beseres, saying, “I think that it’s going to be [a] more consistent level of higher teams.”
In order to turn some heads in the Valley, the Ramblers will look to replace a huge starter from last season: Brooke Andressen. Despite the senior’s departure, according to Beseres, the goals haven’t changed for the team.
“Finishing at the top of the Horizon League, I think, puts us in a great place for the Missouri Valley. The teams will definitely be more challenging in the Missouri Valley, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen.”
Gardner says freshmen Jacquelyn Murphy, Alyssa Mannucci and Erica Nagel add a lot to the team.
Coming in fresh to the program, Nagel admits that she was nervous but knows her team is there for her.
“Even if I do make a mistake, I know that the girls will have my back.”
The Ramblers will need Nagel and Gardner to get back on track if they want to turn some heads this season. The team is on the road until March 22 when Missouri State University comes to Rogers Park.