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Turning the Page on Last Season

10-9 vs Owens CC Gm1 Aaron Suozzi (335)

Photo credit: Aaron Suozzi

10-9 vs Owens CC Gm1 Aaron Suozzi (335)
Written by: Brice VanceFebruary 17, 2016

“Flush it,” junior outfielder Caitlyn DeLong said, describing what her coaches told the players to do about their 3-45 record last season.

The players are not looking back on what they did in the previous season. Instead,  they are looking forward to the 2016 season.

A 3-45 season is not how second-year head coach Germaine Fairchild wanted to begin her career at IPFW, but she kept in good spirits knowing it was going to be a tough season.

“We had to come last year and set some new standards, and we did that,” Fairchild said. “We just knew we were behind the eight ball.”

One thing Fairchild tried to do to make up some lost ground was to try and not focus on the number of wins the team got throughout the year.

“We may not have gotten wins but we did a put a program in place and set expectations,” Fairchild said.

There were a multitude of things that went the wrong way for the team last season but it was a problem internally and mentally that piled on the struggles last season.

“Team chemistry and a general lack of desire were our biggest problem,” Fairchild said.

Fairchild and her staff tried to combat the mental attitude that surrounded the squad last season and address it this offseason by talking about the mental part of the game everyday in practice.

The team is using an online software program called Positive Performance.              The program provides training with mental performance and training for athletes and teams.

“It addresses parts of the game you don’t really think about,” DeLong said.

“The results have been really positive. I think our student-athletes have gained a lot,” Fairchild said.

The team raised $3,000 last season to get the program and use it this offseason.

Although the team was no-hit four times and was held scoreless in 19 games last season there were still some positives taken away from last year.

“The biggest thing we gained was grit, determination and resiliency,” Fairchild said.

Fairchild has more control over the schedule going into this season to make it a more “manageable schedule” than last season’s schedule, which was already set in place when she was hired, that included top schools like Texas and Oklahoma.

Last season Fairchild felt less prepared for the task at hand, but with two new assistants at her side, Amber Bowman and Casey Cromwell, the team is ready for this upcoming season.

“They love the game. They want to coach for their careers. It’s what they want to do, they’re passionate, and their knowledge of the game is high,” Fairchild said.

Seven players that were on the roster last season stayed for this upcoming season and also welcomed in 10 new faces to the program. Many of the new faces transferred from lower levels of college softball to IPFW, a Division I program.

“We just meshed really well immediately, and everyone is here to have fun,” junior outfielder Kelly Pevely said.

In the team’s 28 practices leading up to the start of this season, the Mastodons’ theme is to “earn respect,” according to DeLong.

The team is trying to build on each practice and game in the beginning part of this season to be prepared for the rest of the season.

“We’ve done a lot of live situations, live hitting, live scrimmage situations in practice, and utilize those opportunities to figure out where we’re not quite understanding, and then fixing that,” Fairchild said.

The team’s mental attitude to start the season differs from what it was like last season when the team had a poor mental attitude, according to Fairchild.

Nobody on the team has missed a morning workout, and the team is ready to step between the lines, according to Fairchild

“They are sky high about the start of the season,” Fairchild said.

However, there will be challenges for the team as the season gets underway.

“One of our biggest challenges is going to be healthy; we don’t have lot of depth in a couple of key positions,” Fairchild said.

Also, with the 10 new players on the field getting used to the other players will be a focus for the first couple of weekends of play, Pevely said.

On Feb. 10, IPFW was selected to finish in last place in the Summit League preseason polls. Last year’s champion, North Dakota State, was picked to repeat this year. The top six teams in the league standings at the end of the regular season will participate in the league tournament in May.

The team got its season started Feb. 12 and 13 with four games in Charleston, S.C., against Georgetown, Towson and Charleston Southern.

The Mastodons’ first game on their home field is March 16 when they host Eastern Illinois in a double-header. They begin the Summit League schedule March 25 when they host South Dakota.