Before spring break, Chapman’s softball team had a mercurial weekend, with two sweeping wins against the Occidental Tigers March 9, followed by two losses to Ithaca College on March 10. Crowds of enthusiastic fans and parents gathered in the stands at El Camino Real Park in Orange to support Chapman’s softball team in its first home game of the season. The Panthers tore onto the field March 9 to deafening cheers.
Junior Sarah Hartmann, a right-handed pitcher, said that the team’s morale was at an all-time high. The team opened its first game of the doubleheader with a “bang,” scoring nine runs in the first inning, said senior Hope Ballard, an outfielder on the team.
“I wanted to make sure that we weren’t playing the game as if we were nine runs ahead,” Ballard said. “We needed to play the game like it was 0-0 and we still had something to fight for.”
The team continued to beat Occidental 13-3 and 12-9 in the first and second games. Riding the high of these wins, Ballard said the Panthers went into the next day’s games against Ithaca College brimming with confidence.
“Our team really took the momentum off of the Occidental wins and we tried to use that going forward,” Ballard said.
But he March 10 doubleheader didn’t go as anticipated, with the Panthers losing both games against Ithaca with scores of 4-1 and 6-2. In the two weeks that followed, the team saw a total of eight losses and two wins. For the Ithaca games, which ended the team’s four-game winning streak, Ballard said the Panthers “struggled” to keep up because they’d never faced such skilled pitchers before.
“That’s not an excuse, though. We need to be able to come in and face any team and hit any pitcher they throw at us,” Ballard said.
Senior Emily Claudy, a right-hand pitcher on the team said the Panthers faced a lack of confidence at bat.
“We all know that our team can hit well,” Claudy said. “It’s just the matter of having the same confidence in every situation, no matter how much pressure is put on you.”
Ballard said the team has learned to accept failure as part of the sport.
“The game doesn’t remember what happened yesterday,” she said.
Focusing too much on failures can be detrimental and counter-productive to the team, Hartmann said.
“We play so many games and we play so frequently that there’s no point focusing on ‘that one loss’ or ‘that one bad pitch’,” Hartmann said. “A few losses is not going to stop us and we’re not going to let it take our momentum away.”
Freshman Ayanna Sanchez, a utility player, said what defines an athlete is not a loss, but “how you come back from that loss.”