By Adam Schabel
The Cleveland State University softball team got off to a hot start to begin their spring season, winning seven games in a row and seven of their first 10 overall.
Head coach Becky Norris, who is in her fifth season with the team, does not think the team did anything out of the ordinary to spark their early season success.
“We play every game the same,” Norris said. “We have goals that we want to accomplish during games and we always try to accomplish those goals. It’s nice when you get the ‘W’ too.”
The Vikings stumbled out of the gate in their first two games, losing 10-4 and 10-3 to Niagara University and Bowling Green State University, respectively.
Despite the two losses, the team bounced back in a big way.
Cleveland State’s first win of the season came at home against Robert Morris University on Feb. 10, in the CSU Dome Tournament. This was the start of an impressive run for the Vikings as they won seven straight games from Feb. 10 through Feb. 18.
In addition to Robert Morris, the team defeated both Canisius College and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore twice, as well as Howard University and North Carolina A&T during their winning streak.
Cleveland State followed up their winning streak with a four-game losing streak. Three of the four losses occurred in Nashville, Tennessee at the Belmont Tournament, which took place on Feb. 24 and 25. The Vikings were able to grab a win on the last day of the tournament against Tennessee State University. As a result, the team owns an 8-6 overall record.
Norris is happy with the way her team has played so far this season.
“[We’ve played] great,” Norris said. “We are young, but have a lot of pride and determination.”
Cleveland State has a break in their schedule that began on Feb. 24 and lasts until March 9. Following the break, the team will travel to Fresno, California to participate in the Bulldog Classic at Fresno State University.
Immediately following their trip to California, the Vikings will travel to Hawaii to participate in the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.
Norris said that she and her team are looking forward to those two tournaments.
“We will have the best competition, and our players have worked so hard to fundraise for the trip,” Norris said. “They each raised $1,000 of their own to go. If that’s not love of the game, I don’t know what is.”
After their long road trip, Cleveland State will return home to take on Niagara University in a double header, on March 28. The Vikings will then begin Horizon League conference play and head out on the road against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on March 30.
With a lot of games left to be played this season, Norris keeps her expectations for her players simple.
“Play every pitch, one pitch at a time,” Norris said. “Play the game, not the opponent, and focus on the process, not the outcome.”