The California Baptist University softball team was originally scheduled to play 14 non-conference games to start the season but only competed in eight, hindering more practice games before the PacWest championship starts.
When a storm blew through Tucson, Ariz., all six of the Lancers’ games at the three-day Cactus Classic were canceled. The next matchup for CBU after their rainy trip to Arizona was a date with Azusa Pacific University and the start of PacWest Conference play.
“We work really hard during the week through our practices to be able to compete and not being able to play was kind of a downfall,” said Halle Rosario, junior criminal justice major and utility player, “But as far as preparation, I don’t think it damaged us in any way.”
The Lancers had the opportunity to face six opponents in three days at the Easton Classic hosted by Dixie State University in early February, but they were plagued by injuries and dropped two of those six games.
“It was a good test for us to see how deep we are,” said Bill Baber, head softball coach. “We didn’t play quite as well as we anticipated, but we learned a lot about our team and where we can go from here.”
With a depleted squad, some athletes took advantage of their newfound spot in the lineup. Diana Gomez, senior undeclared major and outfielder., was responsible for seven hits and four RBIs during the Dixie State Tournament.
“There were a couple people that really stepped up, especially like Diana. (She went) out there and didn’t get a lot of playing time and filled in for one of our starters,” Baber said of Gomez. “It shows that we’ve got players that can step up.”
Caitlyn Lloyd, sophomore journalism and new media major and outfielder, said the downtime allowed the group to bond with each other.
“It was fun just to be able to spend time with the team and not have any pressure of school or softball and just kind of be there as girls and make memories,” Lloyd said.
Baber reflected on how the non-conference tournaments helped prepare his team for conference action.
“Getting to play some good teams out there,” Baber said. “We know what we need to do to get better and to get ready to face some good teams in our tough conference.”
It turned out the Lancers were ready, as they swept Azusa Pacific in a two-game Feb. road series 1-0 and 9-1.