In The Locker Room with Softball
This week, the Review sat down with sophomore center fielder Emma Downing and senior pitcher Tori Poplaski to discuss the recent success of the softball team. The team broke the record for wins on spring break, earning six victories over the course of the week. After dropping their first two conference games to Kenyon College last Saturday, the Yeowomen split with Allegheny College on Wednesday, winning the first contest 6–1 and dropping the second 8–2. Downing currently boasts the best batting average on the team at .443, and was named North Coast Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week following a spring break in which she hit .500. She also tallied 16 hits, two doubles, two homeruns and a slugging percentage of .750. Poplaski leads the team in RBIs with 19, is hitting .373 and is tied for the team lead in home runs with four. The Yeowomen will travel to Granville, Ohio, to take on the Denison University Big Red in a double header tomorrow.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about Spring Break.
Tori Poplaski: I think we just went into [spring break] with a completely different vibe compared to the past. It was obviously really cool that we set the record for wins on spring break. I don’t think we were going into it trying to do that. I think we’re just a different team this year, and that lent a totally different atmosphere to the spring break trip.
Emma Downing: I think it also goes back to how our season ended last year. No one was happy with our record or how we played, and I think that feeling plus the incoming freshmen being really talented — those two things combined to give us a really good team this year. I think spring break was good because it’s the one time of year that we can focus just on playing softball. We were able to really grow as a team throughout the week.
How’s the start of your conference schedule going?
TP: We just played Kenyon, and those have been our only conference games. Those were really two tough losses to swallow, but we still have a lot of conference play left, so I think we’re excited to get back into it. We bounced back really well on Sunday after playing our first conference games and pulled out a win and lost 1–0 [against Defiance College.] I mean, that’s fantastic. It doesn’t sound good, but that [loss] was still a great game.
ED: I think we’re playing better now than we were at this time last year. Kenyon is also a really good team. We started off playing really tough competition. I think some of the games we have later in the season will seem a little bit easier in comparison. But it also serves as motivation. We lost to our rivals, both games, so it’s about bouncing back after that.
What do you think makes this year’s team unique?
TP: We added a lot of really great freshmen. They have totally bought into the ideas of winning and not accepting failure. I think everyone on the team has just grown so much from last year. Last year was a transition year. It was hard. We had a new coach, [and] we were adding new people. This year, everybody is the same except for the freshmen. I think that has just helped tremendously.
ED: I think also we’re learning from each other a lot more this year. I think we’re getting really good feedback from both our coaches and each other, throughout everything that we’re doing.
Your motto is “Expect More.” Tell me about that.
TP: It goes from expecting more of ourselves, to expecting more of each other, expecting more out of every single outcome of practice, of every single game — just never settling. We never want to be happy. It’s a motto now, but I think it’s going to be a motto going forward, to constantly expect more and keep pushing forward in the long run.
ED: I think it’s also holding each other accountable, calling each other out when we know something’s not going well and when we can improve on something. I think that’s something that has changed between last year and this year. I think it’s also not settling. … We don’t want to be OK with doing better this year than last year. We want to win every single game. We want to take two from Kenyon. We don’t want to be OK with [playing] two well-played games. It’s about being mad about that and using that as motivation going forward.
Interview by Jackie McDermott, Sports editor