By Sarah Swenson
The Nantucket softball team, which has held a solid four and four record this year, believe they can continue to improve their play. Members of the team look to a year without COVID restrictions to encourage the team to play to its full potential.
Team members universally called this a rocky season. Quincy Sullivan, team co-captain, said the season “had its ups and downs. We definitely had some really good games, and some really bad games, and practices. But overall, I think it’s going well.” That sentiment is echoed by other team members.
The softball team had the advantage of a season that started in the spring, their games starting in May, so they were not as heavily impacted this season by COVID as some other sports were. Still, they felt the struggle.
Maclaine Willett, another team co-captain, commented that, “In the beginning of the season, when we had to wear masks, getting to know each other was kind of hard, because a lot of us aren’t in the same friend circle, and also some of the girls haven’t been used to travelling. After the mask restrictions were lifted, and things started to loosen up a bit, it helped.”
Other team members agreed that seeing each other face to face was helpful. They explained that not getting to even see the faces of team members that they had never met before made it more challenging to get to know them on a personal level. Sophomore Kacey Riseborough admitted that “this year was really tough” but emphasized that she is “glad things are getting back to normal.”
The upperclassmen had sympathy for their younger teammates. Some of the underclassmen have never experienced high school without masks on, and only part way through the season got to take them off while playing games. Willett hopes to “build the confidence of the younger players,” in the coming season.
“They don’t have a lot of confidence, but they have a lot of skill. I think just working on making sure that they have confidence going into the game, despite their lack of varsity experience would be a big help,” she asserted.
Sullivan agreed that for the underclassmen, especially those who had no prior experience at a varsity level “starting the season this way was probably weird. I think they’ll feel better next year.” She added that she “couldn’t imagine” having to enter a new sports team under the circumstances this year’s freshmen did, but she didn’t enter in an easy time either.
Two years ago, when this year’s rising seniors were just freshmen themselves, the team was very young, having lost 12 seniors who had been practicing since childhood the year before. Juniors on the team recall that the loss was a blow. Even now, eight of the 16 team members are underclassmen, putting the team on the young side for a varsity team.
With the team’s record this year, it is clear they have bounced back and are succeeding even with a younger team. “We’ve improved throughout the season and I’m glad that we were able to push through and make it work,” Riseborough commented. Next year, with tenured students, the athletes expect to do even better. They hope that they will also benefit from the lifting of COVID restrictions, which will allow greater teammate interaction, and encourage the younger players to be confident.
Still, even with the limitations that COVID has placed on everyone, the team has managed to do well. They are 3rd in the Massachusetts South Division League, and 59th of 98 in Massachusetts. Though team members admit that the team is about average, they are anything but average in spirit. The team is pumped for the opportunities and experiences that next year will usher in, and they’re not done with this one yet. The regular season is over, but students can choose to opt into the playoffs, and you can look forward to watching those who do become even stronger players this summer.