The last time the Webster University softball team finished the regular season with a winning record was 2013. That season, the team’s record was 19-16 including a 9-9 record in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).
Head coach Chris Eaton said that the team’s struggles were due to a lack of consistency and injuries to many players.
“Our main thing is just we hadn’t been consistent and a lot of injuries to our pitching staff has been our big thing,” Eaton said. “A couple of our pitchers have had a couple of surgeries since then so this year we’re healthy, so we have some healthy pitchers for the first time so I think we’ll have a pretty good year.”
Eaton said despite the losing season last year, he saw signs that his team had the potential to be successful moving forward.
“We had a decent year last year and at one point we had an 11 game winning streak,” Eaton said. “We lost a game by one run going into the conference tournament last year so I think it helped the girls that returned get more motivated to play for this year and take that next step.”
Senior outfielder Sidney Coleman transferred to Webster last year from Garden City Community College and finished first on the team in slugging percentage and home runs. Coleman said the experience she gained from playing softball and her fresh start at Webster helped fuel her success.
“I’ve been playing softball all my life and I started [at Webster] with a new journey and it was really exciting,” Coleman said. “I feel like Coach [Eaton] really made us work hard and held us accountable. . . Having that structure, that working hard is the main goal and working together, really led to my success last season.”
Coleman said the key to making the most of her at bats is focusing on reading pitches and maintaining a sense of calm when she is at the plate.
“I try to stay as focused as possible and relax,” Coleman said. “I used to have a problem with not being as relaxed and I think just focusing on the ball, and reading it right off the hand has really helped me. A lot of the drills that we do at practice really helps us see the ball and work on our contact points, and I think a lot of practice helps me.”
Eaton said Coleman was an important piece in the development of the team last season and her combination of speed, power and athleticism will continue to make her a dynamic force.
“[Coleman] did a nice job, she transferred in last year, she’s a really good outfielder, she has one of the strongest arms we’ve had,” Eaton said. “She’s the fastest girl that we have as well and she hits for power so she kind of has all the tools to be successful and we’re looking for good things from her again this year.”
When transferring to Webster, Coleman said she was not sure if she still wanted to continue to play softball at all, but deep down she knew she still had a passion for the game.
“During that transfer from my junior college to a four year college I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to play, but at the same time I knew I wasn’t ready to say goodbye,” Coleman said. “During that summer I passed through St. Louis and just stopped [at Webster] and went on a random visit and I just knew as soon as I walked the campus, and talked to the coach, and learned his standards, that this was the place I wanted to be.”
Junior pitcher Tessa Johanning said she was glad Coleman made the move to Webster. Johanning also said Coleman was able to quickly adjust to the team and dominate in her first season.
“I definitely think [Coleman] fits in with the team very well and she’s one of the leaders on our team,” Johanning said. “She’s a great centerfielder and a great outfielder, she definitely hits well for our lineup and she also has a great personality for it.”
The team will play their season opener on Feb. 25 against Kenyon College. Coleman remains confident that the team will perform better this season and secure a winning record.
“We just need to make sure that everyone stays focused,” Coleman said. “There were times last year where we had an error and couldn’t bounce back. There were a couple of times last year where we were winning games and the opposing team came back last minute and won. . . I think me as a leader and as a senior, making sure everybody brushes off the errors and making sure everyone stays focused will really help.”