Last year, the CSU softball team won eight games under first year coach Jen Fisher with a team that consisted largely of freshmen.
â€œWe had to come together as players and be close as friends in order to get through that,â€ sophomore infielder Kendal Butterfield said.
Fisher helped facilitate that success by providing a constant, stabilizing presence throughout the season regardless of the result on the field.
â€œShe understood that we didnâ€™t have pitching and it was her first year to build,â€ senior Lyssa Roberts said. â€œIt meant a lot to know we had a coach that was consistent. This year sheâ€™s the same way.â€
This season, wins and consistency came for CSU. The Rams have compiled an overall record of 22-22, and already claim more conference wins in two series than all of last year.
â€œIt was really hard last year because the system was new to everybody,â€ Fisher said. â€œWe can try to get that in as fast as possible, but at some point you have to let time be time.â€
The players understood more of Fisherâ€™s system from the beginning, while an influx of new talent helped push CSUâ€™s pitching staff to another level. Fisher brought in three transfer pitchers in Kacie McCarthy, Kailey Snyder and Kali Hass who have combined to win all but one of the Ramsâ€™ games this year.
â€œOur pitching staff is much deeper, so weâ€™re able to hit live more often,â€ Fisher said. â€œWe have a lot of different pitchers we can go to, and theyâ€™re all throwing strikes.â€
CSUâ€™s quick turnaround can also be attributed to an increase in senior leadership.
â€œTo be honest, Iâ€™m not sure that was there last year,â€ Roberts said. â€œOr the girls have embraced it more than they did last year.â€
In embracing the leadership role, Roberts began to enjoy playing softball more than she had in previous years.
â€œMy first two years here I couldnâ€™t wait to be done,â€ she said. â€œWhen coach Fisher came in it changed the whole atmosphere, and I learned to love the game again.â€
The foundation for success has been laid, and Fisherâ€™s future goal is for the program to continue to rise and eventually become one of the top tier teams in the country.
â€œWe need a little bit more depth, more consistent competition and our pitching could be a little bit sharper,â€ Fisher said. â€œThe teams that you see that are top-20 teams have pitching that can really run the table.â€
And she has her team believing that goal isnâ€™t too far off.
â€œItâ€™s a matter of one pitch. Weâ€™re missing it by one pitch, one play,â€ Butterfield said. â€œItâ€™s just getting over that threshold and continuing to fight, which weâ€™re showing.â€
Softball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
What a difference a year makes:
CSU softballs stats on 4/27/2011 vs 4/27/2012
W-L Record: 2011 – 7-36, 2012 – 22-22
8-run rule losses: 2011 – 21, 2012 – 3