Irwin discusses early season woes, team improvement
ETSU softball bounces back from 0-4 season start
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 21:02
The Lady Bucs softball team opened their home season over the weekend with a three-game, series sweep of Siena. The East Tennessean recently sat down with Brad Irwin, ETSU softball’s head coach.
The Lady Bucs struggled in the season opener dropping all four games at the Plainsmen Invite hosted by Auburn. ETSU has since recovered from the opening day woes, going 6-2 in their last eight games, including three come-from-behind victories.
Q: Coach Irwin, what are the differences between the opening weekend and now?
A: We have been a much more comfortable team on the field. We talked about narrowing our focus on driving in runners when they were in scoring position. We addressed some of our defensive issues and stopped committing as many errors in our approach to the second tournaments.
Q: Speaking of errors, were the ones from other games just some early season jitters?
A: I had a few people a little out of position earlier to try and get the best hitting line-up out there, and in the first tournament it showed some defensive problems. We were able to shift some players, and in the second tournament we played much better on defense.
Q: The team really had the drive to win last weekend. Where did that come from?
A: We talked about playing with more enthusiasm, energy and passion this year. It seems a little cliché, but I saw it in their eyes — they wanted to win. Last weekend they fought back and were never out of any game. They fought back against George Madison and came back against Akron but were just edged out. We talk about belief in themselves and the team. If they went down then the next hitter would get it done. They saw it come to fruition and that is one of the biggest steps for them.
Q: How do you maintain the momentum into the future?
A: Our next big step is to realize we can’t live off of past games. We have not arrived and we have to still work on things. We have to improve on areas that need it and ride the momentum that we can build.
Q: It is still early but where are you seeing the most improvement this year?
A: All around we are a better team this year. Pitching especially has improved this year over past years. Sam Harell is keeping teams off balance, but we are still giving up too many runs and more walks than I like, but we are showing real improvement.
Q: Over the weekend you swept Siena, talk to me about that?
A: I am incredibly proud of the team in getting the sweep over Siena. We had to come back in the final game but this team never believes they are out of the game. They fight — grit and determination makes me very proud of them. Having a three-game series is very important especially with conference games moving to a three-game series this year.
Q: Any thoughts for the student fans?
A: We love when we have students out to support us. We are hosting the Holiday Inn Buccaneer Challenge this weekend and want the support this weekend. We want to show that we are a better team to the fans, so come out and support the team.
Morehead State and Bowling Green start the action at 11 a.m. Saturday. ETSU plays a double-header starting at 1 p.m. with a game against Morehead State.