Though springtime’s regular schedule is months away, BYU’s softball team begins its preseason today at 1 p.m. at Miller Field with an intra-team Blue/White scrimmage.
The team and coaches alike view the Blue/White scrimmages as opportunities to teach and learn, all while in a game setting.
“We run it just like a real game, but we take teaching moments within that experience,” head coach Gordon Eakin said. “So where we wouldn’t stop a real game and go out and explain things at a deeper level, [today] we’ll take opportunities for teaching moments. That’s really the only difference we try to have in making it game-like.”
Assistant head coach Vaughn Alvey said although the girls are playing each other and not another team, there’s an education process that accompanies scrimmages.
“Part of what you try to teach a team is to be competitive and you need to practice being competitive, as well as you need to practice ground balls,” Alvey said. “Part of the education process of the team is seeing situations as they unfold, and so the opportunity of seeing things in a game-like situation is different than practicing fly balls and ground balls and things like that because it’s actual real life.”
The five incoming freshmen look forward to the preseason not only because it begins their college experience but because of their love of the sport and opportunity to grow as a family.
“The game is here because [we] love it,” newcomer Anna Hudson said. “A lot of times girls are just playing because they need something to do, but here … this is where people love the game and they play it because it’s their life.”
Returning sophomore Madisen Robb agrees and said, “Softball’s a lifestyle here.”
Treating today’s scrimmage like a true game, Eakin left the players with advice at the end of Wednesday’s practice.
“We need to attack the game tomorrow,” he said. “Don’t let the game attack you.”
Eakin views all of his players — returners and newcomers — the same way.
“We expect [the freshmen] to play at a high level, too. That’s why we recruited them,” he said. “There’s definitely some experience issues with the incoming players. They’re learning at an accelerated pace at this level, but our expectations are that they’ll learn quick and they’ll perform at the same level as the veterans.”
Today’s scrimmage will pose as a landmark for springtime’s inaugural season. It allows the softball team to focus on what Eakin calls the ‘team’s outlook.’
“Our goal and our vision is to win our conference every year and proceed deep into the NCAA playoffs and maybe College World Series,” Eakin said. “We don’t rebuild, we retool and our expectations every year are that the team will excel and perform and meet our goals.”