Team bonding, finding consistency highlight softball's spring break trip

Players break a huddle before the game against Western Michigan University on April 12, 2017 at Margo Jonker Stadium.

Every season, the Central Michigan softball team travels to play in different tournaments over the week of spring break.

This season the Chippewas traveled to Clearwater, Florida where they played in the USF Under Armor Invitational and Showcase, and the Citrus 2 Tournament.

CMU (9-11) competed in 12 games in eight days, compiling a 5-7 record. 

“Every year I get a lot emails throughout the year and we get it planned pretty early on,” said head coach Margo Jonker. “Everyone in the country is invited to all of these tournaments and you have to pay an entry fee. The weather is usually good in Florida so we like to stay there.”

For the past five seasons, the Chippewas have flown to Clearwater for many different tournaments.

The team has many improvements to make even though it is early, Jonker said.

“We need to be more consistent in all aspects of our game,” Jonker said. “There were some high points like with bunting, some great throws to the plate, solid defense and we had some good performances in the circle but not all the time.

“I told the team we need to have two of the three big elements — hitting, pitching or defense — we need to find a way to have that more often.”

Junior outfielder Allison Curtis, who started all 20 games this season and posses a .311 batting average, said the trip allows her to focus on softball.

“To play outdoors at this time of the year in Michigan truly helps for later in the season,” Curtis said. “We don’t have as much school work to focus on so we can really focus on improvements in our game.”

Fellow outfielder redshirt junior Sara Hansen said playing many games in a short time period can occasionally wear the team down. 

“It takes a toll on your body but in a way it makes you stronger,” Hansen said. “When you have double-headers the fatigue builds up, it doesn't really have to do with the traveling. It’s all of those innings you are on your feet for that ware on you over the days.”

Multiple games also help build the team's chemistry, she said.

“You’re bonding with your roommates all week and you get to learn more about some of the people you didn’t know anything about,” Hansen said. “We need to learn how to close out games and get some wins, but overall that’s what these trips are for.”

Until the Chippewas take on the University of Michigan at 4 p.m. March 21 in Ann Arbor, they will not play for nine days.

“We will continue working on consistency and making improvements on the practice field,” Jonker said. “I’ll try to meet with every player from now until our next game and see what their thoughts are and we can go from there.”