This week the Racers take on their first conference competitors after a weekend that became a success.
Though three of their four games at the Tennessee Classic ended in loss, the Racers started to work through the problems that have plagued the early stages of their season.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit with playing scared and not going out and doing what we can,” Shelby Kosmecki, junior pitcher, said. “By the end of the weekend we conquered that kind of thing. We talked a lot about it and it just felt like by the last game of the weekend we were our old self again. We were making plays that we knew we could make and we were hitting well, which is what we need to do the whole time.”
Despite his disappointment in some aspects of the weekend, Head Coach Jay Pyron was similarly optimistic, adding that the team is doing better than it ever has at this point in the season.
“A team changes every year but it also changes day to day as you learn more about yourself and as you grow together,” Pyron said. “We’re just trying to make sure we grow in the right direction and grow together as a unit. We’re still above 500 right now and we’ve never been that in the history of the program, so we’re in a pretty good place right now and have gotten a couple of wins in places we didn’t think we could, so you can’t just sit around hoping to play perfect all the time. You have to learn to win when you don’t have your best. The teams that can do that are the ones that really have success. We took a step in that direction.”
Kosmecki in particular said she felt a little of the nervousness that comes with games early in the season shake loose.
“I felt really good this weekend. I struggled a little bit at the start of season, but I always have a couple of games at the beginning that don’t go my way and I get nervous, but this weekend I just threw that all out the window,” Kosmecki said. “This is my third year here. I only have one more year after this. I’m just going to go out there and do what I do.”
This weekend the Racers take on Tennessee State for their first conference road trip of the season.
“I’m super excited, especially the way the weekend ended,” Kosmecki said. “If it hadn’t ended the way it did I might be a little nervous, but I feel like we’re at a great place. I’m ready to start conference. I feel it’s going to be a good transition into conference play. They’ll be a good test for us. We’re going to be playing pretty good competition. I think we’re prepared for it. We just need to take the week at practice to get a little more fine-tuned prepared for the kind of team they are.”
Regardless of how heartening Kosmecki’s take on the upcoming conference series, Pyron has serious concerns about the games ahead.
“Tennessee State is very much improved,” Pyron said. “They struggled a lot last year. They had a new coach in. He didn’t have the kind of players he needed to win and he’s done a really nice job of changing over the personnel there very quickly, so they had 11 wins last year and they have six already now and they have a win against an SEC school. They’re certainly moving in the right direction and we can’t take them lightly. I think they’ll be contending to make the conference tournament. We’re going to have to play really well to win. They’re certainly far different than they were last year and I hope our players understand that.”
The Racers will play their first home games of the season next weekend against Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. March 17 and at 1 p.m. March 18 at Racer Field.