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home : sports : sports   April 29, 2016

3/7/2014 9:57:00 AM
IVCC softball ready to get away

IVCC sophomore first baseman and L-P graduate Taylor Schmidt is one of four returnining sophomores this year for the Lady Eagles.NewsTribune file photo
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IVCC sophomore first baseman and L-P graduate Taylor Schmidt is one of four returnining sophomores this year for the Lady Eagles.
NewsTribune file photo
Jared Bell
NewsTribune Sports Writer

T.J. Chapman doesn’t really love this winter.

With inches of snow still resting on the IVCC softball field and brutally cold temperatures forcing the Lady Eagles to practice indoors, the sophomore catcher and La Salle-Peru alumna is looking forward to this weekend’s season-opening trip to Florida.

“I cannot wait to see some green instead of white on the ground,” Chapman said. “Palm trees are a huge plus, too.”

While IVCC may traditionally only get outside a handful of times before its annual Spring Break trip to Florida, this year Mother Nature has been especially unforgiving.

The weather has relegated the Lady Eagles to taking all of their infield practice on the gym floor and has not allowed outfielders to see one pop fly outside.
That will change in Florida.

“We’ve been saying that even if it’s in the 50s it’ll probably feel like 90s to us,” sophomore third baseman and Midland graduate Olivia Harcar joked. “We’re so ready.”

The Lady Eagles open their season at 3 p.m. today against West Virginia Wesleyan JV and will play again at 5 p.m. against Walsh University JV.

In all, IVCC will play six games in three days in Clermont, Fla., which is located 25 miles west of Orlando.

“Thank goodness we go,” IVCC coach Cory Tomasson said. “It’s really important to go down and get some games in before we come back and play conference games and region games. We’re going to play some good competition. Who knows when we’ll play up here, but at the same time hopefully we’ll be ready when we get back.”

The trip will be a good test for the new-look Lady Eagles.

After IVCC was a win away from advancing to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament last season, the squad welcomes back four returning sophomores to pair with seven freshmen.

In addition to Chapman returning behind the plate and Harcar at third, L-P graduate Taylor Schmidt is back at first base and L-P alumna Micky Fassino returns at shortstop.

Freshman and St. Bede graduate Abbey Nowakowski is expected to play at second base, while Midland alumna and freshman R.J. Judd will play in center field and bat lead off.

Ottawa graduate and freshman Chrissy Pond will be in the left field and Roanoke-Benson alumna and freshman Miranda Grandy will be in right field.

“This year our goal is to put the ball in play and make things happen,” Tomasson said. “We’ll play small ball a lot. Everyone is a good bunter and everyone makes good contact, so hopefully that’ll make something happen for us.”

While IVCC returns four core hitters from last year, it graduated its entire pitching staff, but Tomasson brought in four new pitchers, all of whom he says will throw this spring.

The foursome includes Grandy, Fieldcrest graduate and freshman Tiffany Lindsay, freshman and Farmington alumna Michaela Cassel and freshman Elizabeth Whitaker from the state of Oregon.

“We played Sauk (Valley) seven times last year, and we saw their pitchers a lot and they saw ours a lot,” Chapman said. “It gets to that point where you know what’s coming, so to have a four-pitcher rotation will be nice.

“I’ve worked with all of them and, being able to catch them all during practice, they all have good movement and they are all different.”

The Lady Eagles also hope for different results in the postseason.

Last season was the fifth time in Tomasson’s 14 years as coach that IVCC finished second in the region.

“I’m a sore loser and don’t like to lose,” Chapman said. “I’ve always been about winning, so definitely being one game away (from the national tournament) left a bitter taste. We haven’t brought it up, but I think it’s something us sophomores just think about and is in the back of our heads.”

Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.

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