by Eileen Flynn ’20
The Providence College Women’s Softball Team traveled to the University of Central Florida’s “Friends of Jaclyn” Tournament on Feb. 9 to 11. Facing four tough opponents, the Friars went 0-4 the first two days of the tournament. However, Brittney Veler ’18, stirred up some momentum her team needed to get the season going. With her impressive RBIs and variation of hits, the team was inspired on their last day of the tournament, just in time for the match-up against the University of North Carolina.
The game started off quiet, two innings passed and both teams still had a zero under their names on the scoreboard. Emma Lee ’19 began the third inning with a leadoff single. After a few more pitches, Lee made her way over to third, stealing two bases. Vanessa Portillo ’19 brought her teammate home with an RBI single.
The Tarheels did not take long to respond to the one run deficit. In the bottom of the third, UNC tied the game at 1-1. In the top of the 5th inning, Mackensie Compton ’20 and Veler worked together to set up Portillo yet again. Portillo responded with a clutch sacrifice fly, sending the winning run across home plate. Miranda Trinidad ’21, pitched a complete game and held the Tarheels at just one run. PC finished the tournament on an upset, handing ranked UNC their only loss of the weekend.
Veler tallied a .400 batting average over the course of five games. The senior had six hits, a double, a triple, and four RBIs. The Big East named Veler to the weekly honor roll after noticing her impressive performance. Although this was not her first time being recognized, Veler said she was excited to start off her final season as a Friar with this accomplishment.
After a busy weekend away, Veler looked ahead to the upcoming season. “We have a team of veterans; we only lost two players, so we have a lot of experience.” Veler mentioned the previous years’ heartbreaks where her team was just short of qualifying for the Big East Tournament. However, Veler is confident that this year her team can “break through” past outcomes and have a better ending.
When asked about what games she was most excited for on this season’s schedule, Veler was quick to name St. John’s University. “That team has rocked us every year I’ve played them; they have a powerful program with a head coach that was once a stud pitcher at Providence.” Veler hopes to beat this team at least once before she has to hang up her cleats. Other match-ups the outfielder is looking forward to include games against DePaul University and Villanova University. Although she loves beating a team on the competition’s turf, she tells me there is nothing better than the comfort of a Ray breakfast and the walk to Glay Field for a big game.
Veler only has a few more walks to her home field before she graduates in the spring. Veler has been playing softball since age six, and she is both sad and excited about her transition into the “real world.” She said that “it is much more than saying good bye to the sport, there were so many ups and downs, so many places it brought me, and so many emotions that are all wrapped together.” She has a few different paths in mind for after graduation. Whether it be a career within the organization of Major League Baseball or in the field of health policy and management, Veler is excited to find out.
As for the rest of the season, she is not losing focus. Veler tells me the key to success for her team is to “stick to the PC way.” She has faith in her coaches to keep pushing her team forward and to keep reminding them that no matter what field they are on, “they own it.”
The Providence College Women’s Tennis Team is patiently waiting for the snow to stop and for the wind to die down so they can start practicing for their 2018 spring season. This past fall, the Friars defeated teams from Johnson & Wales University and the College of the Holy Cross. The team lost two close matches, 4-3, against Fairfield University and Assumption College. When they partcipated in the Quinnipiac Invitational, the Friars displayed promising talent on the second day. In a complete transition from the first day of tournament, three PC players played their way to the semifinals in their respective brackets.
Due to the Friars’ younger roster, this inconsistency in performance can be expected. However, with the fall season under their belts, the team has matured together and have high expectations for their spring season. There are a total of six underclassmen on the team, three freshmen and three sophomores. Katie Marvin ’18 and Risa Takenaka ’19 will lead their younger teammates with their experience and talent.
Takenaka explained how she led her teammates by example during the fall season. “I think I was able to set an example for the team on how to be a competitor on the court when playing tough players,” she said. Since the spring season is filled with tough competitors, the team will need to prepare. Head Coach Jakob Kleason will return for his third year at Providence College.
Saturday, February 3 marked the season opener for the team against Saint Peter’s University where the team got the season off to a hot start with 7-0 sweep.
The next day the Friars faced off against a tough Siena College team in Albany, New York. The Friars fought hard but ultimately lost 5-2 though many of the matches were tight until the end. Takenaka was the only player to pick up a win in the single matches for PC.
Other opponents the team will face this season include Butler University, Dayton University, College of Charleston, Harvard University, Villanova University, St. John’s University, and Brown University. Takenaka is already looking forward to the matchup against Harvard. She said, “They have a really strong lineup, and it’s always a fun time playing as the underdog.”
The Big East Tournament will proceed during the last week in April in Cayce, South Carolina. The Friars are looking to redeem their 4-0 loss to Villanova in the previous 2017 Big East Tournament. The Lady Friars are ready to start their spring season, despite the winter weather.