OU softball steps up their schedule

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The Oakland University softball team just completed a week-long tournament in Tennessee and Florida over the recent break.  The Grizzlies went 9-4 – improving their overall record to 10-8 – and are using tournaments like these to prepare for the Horizon League.

Connie Miner is in her second year as the head coach of the softball team.  She assumed the role late last year, but the 2013 season didn’t go as well as she had hoped due to a lack of scheduling opportunities.  This year, however, Oakland is scheduled to play in 51 games.

“We could potentially play as many games in the preseason as we did all of last year,” Miner said.

The Grizzlies have competed in three tournaments thus far against highly touted competition.  OU played a top 20 team in Georgia Souther and top ranked Tennessee in early February and received praise from the opposing staff.

“The head coach at Tennessee said he really enjoyed watching our team play,” Miner said.  “He was impressed with the way we never gave up and our aggressive approach.”

As is the case with all OU sports, this will be the softball team’s first season competing in the Horizon League.  Coach Miner is approaching the new season with optimism – citing upgrades in budget, competition and travel as things she’s looking forward to.

“We were spending 70 percent of our budget on travel,” she said.  “The longest trip we have this year would have been our shortest trip last year.”

Senior Erica Polidori is excited for the new conference as well.  In her final year with the team, she has high hopes for the 2014 season.

“We’re not a favorite or an underdog,” she said.  “Coming into the Horizon League, we have a fresh start to become whatever we want to become.”

Coach Miner saw her team improve every step of the way last season and hopes this year it can close the gap on some of the close games.  Oakland lost 13 games by two runs or less in 2013; nine of those were by just one run.

“My goal is to help this team find a way to win those close games,” she said.

Oakland looks ahead to playing in a tournament each weekend until conference play begins on March 22.  The Grizzlies travel to Kentucky for a three game series with Moorehead State this weekend.

“We proved to ourselves we can compete with anyone,” said sophomore pitcher Erin Kownacki.  “We know what we can do, we just have to go out and show everybody else.”

Adam Kujawski

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