MCLA's baseball and softball teams got a jump start on the season over the recent break when they traveled to Florida for spring training.
While the women's softball team headed to Fort Myers, Fla., the men's baseball team did their training in Davenport, Fla. According to John Ripepi '11 (pictured left), the team's shortstop and co-captain, "We swung the bats really well. We played a lot of good competition and we ended up with a 5-5 record.
"It's definitely a step up from last year. Last year we only won one game in Florida. It was a rough year, so it was definitely encouraging to go down there and at least come back with a 5-5 record," Ripepi said.
The training was particularly beneficial for the team's young pitching staff.
"We only have a couple guys returning from last year who pitch, and our freshmen pitchers got a lot of work in from the mound. It allowed them to get a taste of what college baseball is like," Ripepi said.
Recently named as MASCAC Co-Player of the Week, Ripepi batted .444 while in Florida. He hit safely in nine out of the 10 games, including five multi-hit games. He reached base safely in all 10 contests and led the team's eight RBIs. In addition, he was a perfect 7-7 in stolen bases and added three doubles and a pair of triples. His best day was a 3-4 performance against UMass-Dartmouth, in which he drove in three runs, stole a base and scored once.
The women's record was 3-7. "Last year we went 2-8, but we improved in much more than our record," said Hadley Ameen '12 (pictured right), who pitches for the Trailblazers.
"We played much better as a team and were much more competitive in each of our games. Based on how we performed in Florida, I am very excited about this year's team," she said. "We have a lot of talent returning from last year that is only getting better, as well as a few new key players who have already helped us tremendously."
First baseman Katie Ouellette '11 hit her first homerun of the season, third baseman Megan Boyer '13 played error-free ball through 10 games, and second baseman Jackie Candelet '11 and shortstop Kristen Robillard '14 each stole six bases.
"It's really great to go to Florida and get some experience on the dirt before we start playing conference games. It's especially beneficial for our outfielders, who don't get much in terms of fly ball practice in the gym, and it is always good for us to get the extra at bats," Ameen added. "We have a lot of talent on our team and I can't wait to start playing."
Once again, MCLA President Mary K. Grant and other college administrators traveled to Florida during the training.
"It's good to see the president come out and support us in what we do," Ripepi said. "It feels really good to have her behind us and to know that, no matter what happens, she's always supporting us. ... I feel that we're becoming more cohesive and that's going to come as the season progresses up north as well. It's starting to come together."