Heading into last year’s DIAA Softball State Tournament, aspirations were high for Smyrna as they hoped their first round matchup against Milford would be the first of a deep playoff run.
However, instead of advancing, they watched as the Lady Bucs moved on, eventually making a remarkable run toward winning the state title.
The way last season ended may have broken the spirit of some teams, though the Lady Eagles enter the 2018 season more motivated than ever.
With 11 returnees, Smyrna Head Coach Nicki Shirey says this year’s team has approached this season with a lot of maturity.
“They know what it takes to get to the tournament and have been putting in the work this preseason,” Shirey said. “Ending last season premature has made their drive to get back to it even more intense.”
This preseason, preparing for the regular season has proven difficult for most spring sports teams throughout the state as they’ve all had to deal with several nor’easters over the past few weeks.
While every team has their own way of getting around weather issues, Smyrna has tried to stay one step ahead of mother nature.
“Dealing with the weather has been a bit of a struggle, but we’ve made it a priority to make the most of any dirt time we’ve gotten,” Shirey said. “Keeping on top of the weekly forecast has been a big part of the practice plan.”
Shirey says the team has tried to take full advantage of whatever time they have, whether it’s indoors taking cuts in the cage, or focusing more on their defense when the weather has allowed them to practice outdoors.
“The girls have really endured some tough temperatures to stay outside, but they know it will make them tougher come game time,” Shirey said.
Being able to make the most of miserable practicing conditions is just one of the championship traits this Lady Eagles team has, a benefit that comes from keeping most of last year’s roster intact.
“The girls haven’t skipped a beat, meshing well together,” Shirey said. “They’re friends on nd off the field and truly care about each other’s success.”
“This is the biggest factor in getting a team with so much talent to the championship. They trust each other on the field and feel very comfortable playing anywhere they are needed.”
The Lady Eagles will open their season Monday afternoon at home against Delmar with first pitch scheduld for 4:15 p.m.