Colgate Softball Confident Ahead of 2021 Season

Aaron Notis, Assistant Sports Editor

On March 8, 2020, Colgate softball lost 2-1 to Jacksonville University in the UAB Tournament. That was the last game they would play that season as the team was sent home in response to the initial uncontrollable spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost a year later, Colgate softball is starting their 2021 season with a new team and high hopes.

Starting this March, the Raiders are looking forward to practicing, playing and bonding with teammates. “It has been hard to do anything as a full team due to COVID, but we’ve done a really good job of being involved with each other whether we have to do things in small groups or over Zoom. During the fall we even did a game night over Zoom,” sophomore outfielder Bailey Burns said.

These bonding activities have made it somewhat easier for the freshmen to become integral members of this cohesive team.

“The freshmen have integrated really well into the team despite the difficult times,” Burns said. “All four of them have really stepped up and personally have done really well at bonding with the team on and off the field. I am excited to see what their next four have in store.”

COVID-19 is continuing to impact the team in several ways, forcing them to be flexible and to embrace Zoom moments.

“We’re facing another big obstacle because one of our coaches tested positive and another was a close contact, so we only have one coach able to be here currently,” Burns said. “While this is hard we are determined to keep working hard and know that we are lucky to be here every day.”

Because of the frigid Hamilton winters, the team hasn’t been able to practice much outside. Yet, all of the players feel good about the team’s practice time.

“While it is not ideal to have to practice inside we know that it is what we have to do, and we embrace each moment we have together because this time last year we were about to be sent home and didn’t get to play at all,” Burns said. “We try to get outside when we can on one of the turf fields, even when it is cold, but with every sports team playing in the spring it’s hard to find that time.” 

This season’s schedule, created to limit travel, is extremely rigorous. Almost every weekend, the Raiders play four games — two doubleheaders. To keep up with the pace, the Raiders are rallying behind assistant coach Matt Nandin’s slogan “Energy Sunday” throughout the season.

“Energy Sunday was inspired by the way we feel entering the final game of a five-game weekend series and has served as the pick-me-up our team has come to embrace when we need a little extra boost,” senior infielder Christiana Cottrell said. “Energy Sunday has even translated to early Sunday morning practices to hype us up and remind us that game day is right around the corner. Winning on Sunday is hard, but winning on ‘Energy Sunday’ is a different story.”

Even with this rigorous schedule, the team has high expectations for themselves.

“Last season, just as we were prematurely canceled, we were off to the best 15-game start our team has seen since 2010,” Cottrell said. “We have the talent and potential once again to start off just as strong. But what sets this team apart is that we have something extra special: a team culture with an unwavering foundation that’s rooted in accountability, positivity and flexibility, where we all have the same goal in mind — to win a Patriot League Championship.” 

Cottrell, Burns and the rest of this year’s squad agree that they feel exceptionally fortunate to be able to compete this season, even with all of the restrictions and obstacles imposed by COVID-19. These sentiments have kept them grounded and flexible throughout this unprecedented season. The team is truly appreciative of the time that they get to play together. 

The Raiders open their season schedule Saturday, March 13 in a doubleheader against Wagner College. This strong, cohesive team looks to rally this season, winning a spot at the top of the Patriot League and proving the power of Energy Sundays.