The UR women’s softball team began their season in the competitive University Athletic Association’s Championships, and looks to improve with each game and develop their young team throughout the season.

Over spring break, the Yellowjackets traveled to the tournament, and came out with a 2-6 record, which included a sweep over Case Western Reserve University. Despite the unfavorable record, the team left the competition with a positive attitude, knowing that they had just faced some of the toughest opponents that they would face this season. “We were playing some of the top teams in the nation,” head coach Kris Shanley said. “It’s a springboard into the next level.”

The women are treating it as such, and they improved their play in each game. UR will look to carry that trend into the rest of the season. “Florida was a great start, but we are all very eager to keep it going,” sophomore Kristen Maloney said. The program has set goals for the season. Maloney continued, “We need to take every game one at a time, inning by inning, pitch by pitch.”

Shanley hopes to set the precedent of a “spiral of success,” in which the team builds up strength and improves each time that they take the field. She also expressed a desire to increase the level of competition UR faces in the spring. “In order to get better, you have to play better opponents.”This sentiment is put into practice when glancing over the team’s ominous and challenging schedule this season. The Yellowjackets are preparing for important games and tournaments, focusing on Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association matchups and local rivals Saint John Fisher and Rochester Institute of Technology.

In order to attain these goals and prove themselves to challenging opponents, UR is working to unite and blend a team comprised of nearly half freshmen. The roster includes returning upperclassmen — seniors Meredith Gray and Val Palermo, juniors Melissa Arms, Sara Dial and Tracy Simon and sophomores Kristen Maloney, Sarah Zimet and Bridget Baran. A spark will be added to this returning core by newcomers — freshmen Kristina Long, Anne O’Brien, Jennifer Moshier, Laura Rubinchuk, Stephanie Yurchyk and Susan Zultanski.

Dial and Simon will serve as captains for the team this year. “They have such undeniable leadership skills and they are integral to the program’s success,” Shanley said. “They have the respect of the team and the coaching staff. They are natural leaders and are the glue that helps hold the team together, setting a high standard of how we play and what we’re all about.”

“We’re blending really well, there is a lot of positive energy,” Yurchyk commented. “Team unity is a big goal for the season, working together and winning.”

UR is diving into the season and are ready to face their strong opponents on the 2003 schedule. Working together, developing as a team and improving each game will make for a successful season.

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