By Jack Wozniack – jjwozniack@csbsju.edu

While the majority of college students used their spring break to relax on a beach or at home, the St. Ben’s softball team was hard at work playing games in Florida.

As a result of the unpredictable Minnesota weather, getting solid game preparation is difficult on campus, so the Blazers made sure to take full advantage of the “sunshine state.”

Over break, they played in twelve games, winning 10 and losing only two.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CSB MEDIA RELATIONS Kiela DeVlaeminck was named the MIAC Pitcher of the Week after returning from Florida where she went 4-0 on the mound and striking out 28 batters.

The team played well last year in Florida, but this year they were even more confident because of the toughness of the competition; nine of the twelve teams that the Blazers played over break had a better 2016 win-loss record than them.

“One thing that I learned about our team in Florida was that we do have the talent and grit to compete with any team,” sophomore pitcher Sydney Meyer said. “When we all are putting our best into the game and cheering each other on, we can do great things.

Head Coach Rachael Click echoed this positivity.

“Our biggest strengths in Florida were hitting and not letting up,” Click said. “[We wanted to] score in the first few innings and not be complacent, but to continue to generate runs every inning.”

Solid batting is shown through the Blazers’ box scores from their spring break games.

In the wins over Emmanuel College, Immaculata University and Century College, the Blazers scored 20, 10 and 23 runs in each respective game. They also scored in almost every inning of those games, which would seem to be a product of the grit and resiliency that both Meyer and Click mentioned.

However, it could also be a result of the depth and experience of the squad.

“Our depth would be one of greatest strengths,” sophomore infielder Claire Boatman said. “I think a lot of teams will realize that we can put any pinch hitter in and be confident in them.”

This depth would be somewhat surprising for a team with a lack of seniors on the roster, yet Click reasoned that youth does not equal inexperience in the Blazers’ case.

“Even though we don’t have any seniors, we have a lot of juniors and sophomores who played a lot of innings last year,” Click said. “So they are actually pretty experienced as younger players.”

The team is clearly improving, as their record this year is already better than last year at this point. The players are confident and, according to their coach, their biggest challenge may just be believing how good they can actually be.

“The biggest thing is for them to start believing in themselves fully and believing that they are one of the top teams in the conference and have the ability to beat any team in the conference,” Click said.

The Blazers won’t have to wait too long to prove their coach right. They have a trip to Iowa this weekend and only four more games in total before their MIAC season begins on April 1 at Concordia.