FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Senior infielder Grace Appelbe recorded a batting average of .237 during the 2015 season with 31 hits. She also marked 17 runs scored.
Senior infielder Grace Appelbe recorded a batting average of .237 during the 2015 season with 31 hits. She also marked 17 runs scored.

The Georgetown softball team will begin competition in the Charleston Southern University tournament today, marking the Hoyas’ first tournament of the 2016 spring season. The team will first take on Towson, followed by a matchup with Indiana University at Purdue Fort Wayne. The next day the team will again compete with Towson and also match up against Charleston Southern.

The team is currently struggling to maintain a roster large enough to sustain the season, as many players were lost due to injuries last season and in the offseason.

“We currently only have 13 healthy players, and right now we’re doing a great job of managing those student athletes,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said. “But it’s a long season — 56 games — and lots can happen over the course of the season.”

Conlan hopes that new freshmen faces on the team can help fill some of these gaps, a task that she believes her new recruits are more than prepared to handle.

“We have an opportunity for our four freshman to play significant roles for us this year in many different positions,” Conlan said. “Regardless of the [size of our] roster they would be in our lineup, they just add a great deal of enthusiasm and athleticism.”

Senior infielder Grace Appelbe echoed her coach’s sentiments, saying that the freshman will bring “power in all aspects of the game.” Appelbe spoke to the value of this specific group of girls in the program this year.

“This is the 11th team Georgetown has ever had for softball. … It’s all about this group, how unique we are, how special we are and how we’ll only have this group one season,” Appelbe said.

Appelbe hopes that uniting as a team and playing for one another can help to overcome the struggles that come along with teammates’ injuries. Appelbe explained that the team is using practice to develop its depth so that players who may not have had prior experience with the specific infield roles can fill those spots.

Conlan believes that winning this weekend would be a great boost of confidence to the team and would show other programs that the Hoyas will be competitive this spring.

“If we can find a way to win that first game it would just give us tremendous momentum not only for the weekend but for the season as a whole, to get some confidence under our belts,” Conlan said.

For the upcoming tournament, Conlan is focused on maximizing the effort and efficiency of her own players and making the most of the skills the team has to offer.

“I don’t worry so much about the teams I’m facing, I worry about us,” Conlan said. “We focus on the things that we do well, and I think if we take care of our own business, that plays itself out.”

One concern for this tournament is the team’s lack of practice on a dirt field — the tournament will be the first time in 2016 that the team will get to dig their cleats into a natural field. Conlan is not worried about this potential disadvantage, because both teams they will face this weekend have been playing in the same conditions.

While the Hoyas may not have much on-field experience this season, the roster boasts quite a few veterans for whom this season will be a familiar experience.

“Experience is probably our greatest strength. [We are] returning three seniors who have significant playing experience and a nice junior class, so I think that overall leadership will be what carries us through for the season,” Conlan said.

The Hoyas are hoping their seasoned players and their incoming rookies can piece together some tone-setting victories this weekend that will dictate the trajectory of the rest of their season.
The game is set to begin today at 9 a.m. in Charleston, S.C.

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