Loyola’s women’s softball team expects to hold open tryouts on Sept. 10 after a difficult season last year.
The Ramblers floated around the .500 mark (same amount of wins as losses) for the first half of last season, then the team went on to lose 23 of its last 30 games en route to a 15-35 overall record.
The collapse came with its fair share of bad luck, according to head coach Jeff Tylka. Tylka said he believes the slew of injuries the team experienced hampered its ability to score runs.
“We were pretty shorthanded last year,” said Tylka, who is entering his fifth year as a coach at Loyola and his second as head coach. “Two to three of our top offensive players were either playing in a limited capacity because of injuries or … missed the entire season due to injury.”
For a team that already struggled to score — the Ramblers averaged about three and a half runs per game last season — losing offense was a devastating blow.
Tylka said he believes the open tryouts, which the Ramblers have held since long before he arrived at Loyola, hold plenty of value despite the fact that not a single tryout player has made the team in any of the previous four seasons.
“We’ve done them every year that I’ve been here,” Tylka said. “We’ve never had more than three or four girls show up for a tryout, but you never know. There may be a phenomenal softball player going to Loyola who chose the school for academics. I’m very confident in the 16 girls we have right now, but it’s tough to pass up if we find a great athlete who can help us.”
Despite the Ramblers’ mediocre season last year — the team’s win total dropped from 25 wins in 2014 and 28 wins in 2013 — Tylka said he’s excited to get the season started and that he believes last year gave the team a humbling experience that it can use to bounce back into contention within the Missouri Valley Conference.
“I thought the girls did a phenomenal job competing and playing with a limited amount of teammates who were capable of stepping on the field,” Tylka said. “As tough as last year was, that will help us incredibly this year because now all those kids have experience.”
The team starts its regular season in the spring, but the Ramblers will face crosstown rival University of Illinois at Chicago in preseason action on Sept. 18.