Softball starts conference play on a high note

Oakland University Softball opened their season at the Purple/Gold Challenge in Nashville on Friday, March 5, dropping the first three matchups against Loyola but snagging a 4-2 win on March 6. Since Horizon League play started in Indianapolis on March 12, they’ve gone 3-1 in the conference.

“My goal [this season] is to win every series to help us get into a better position to make it to the championship, which is only four teams [this year]” Head Coach Lauren Karn said. “Once we attain that goal, I’d like to win the championship.”

Over the weekend, the team won their series against Indiana University — Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) 3-1, winning their first two games 7-5 and 6-3 respectively, and splitting their second doubleheader — first with a 7-5 loss and then a 12-1 victory. 

“I feel really good, the team looks good,” redshirt junior Cammie Brummitt said. “I felt this way last season, and it only solidifies it more because I think we’ve added more weapons going into this season. I think we’re going to be quite the force heading into Horizon League play.”

Karn agreed with Brummitt, saying the Purple/Gold Challenge was great to fit in some non-conference play.

“We were fortunate enough to play at least one non-conference weekend to work some things out after training in the dome and only hitting against our pitchers for the better part of an entire year,” Karn said. “Seeing some other opponents has definitely helped us. By the fourth game [at the Purple/Gold challenge], we were looking more normal and that makes me feel good going into [conference play].”

In light of COVID-19, things have certainly been different for the team.

“[COVID-19] has altered our training, it’s altered the way student athletes are living their lives — there’s been a lot of challenges outside of softball,” Karn said.

Brummitt said COVID-19 has definitely put a “damper on things,” but at the same time, has “forced everyone to buy in.”

“If you’re not with us, if you’re not fully with the team, you won’t be successful because of [COVID-19] — you’ve got to get with the program or you’re going to be out of the program,” Brummitt said. “It ties into mental toughness. A lot of us aren’t able to see our boyfriends, see our friends, our family, and those are all key pillars to people’s lives — when you can’t see [them] you kind of go insane. It makes [us] rely on the team a lot more than [we] have in the past.”

Karn said she’s seen the pandemic bring the team together, and it’s perhaps teaching them to hold each other accountable.

“It has brought them together, and is also teaching them to hold themselves and each other accountable in certain situations,” Karn said. “In the past, they maybe weren’t comfortable holding each other accountable for things outside the field. Now, it’s very clear what the expectations and rules are, they can hold each other accountable before it even gets to me. That’s making them better teammates on and off the field.”

The Golden Grizzlies play at home for the first time this season in their series against Northern Kentucky University starting Friday, March 19.