Ball State Softball’s first two seasons under head coach Lacy Schurr’s direction have been two different stories.
In her first season, the COVID-19 season, the Cardinals went 37-18. The team broke a handful of program records including the most Mid-American Conference (MAC) wins (31) and the longest MAC winning streak with 16 games. Ball State also broke multiple statistical records including the best batting average (.329) and on-base percentage (.415) for a single season.
Her second season saw the Cardinals go 22-31. Ball State went 10-5 at home but struggled in their conference as they finished 15-14 against MAC opponents.
It’s been 285 days since the end of last season, and Schurr is not afraid to change her coaching style for the new season.
“I tell the girls if you're continuing to do the same thing without the result that you're looking for, try something different,” Schurr said. “But I mean, inevitably, with 10 new players on the team and two new assistant coaches, you know, not that the style of coaching changes, but kind of how you just go about everything that you do [changes].”
While the Cardinals have some new faces joining the team, 16 players from last season are returning. One of those returning is fifth-year utility Amaia Daniel. She ended the 2022 season with a .291 batting average, which was second on the team. She also ended the year with 46 hits, which was third on the team.
“I'm just gonna stay mission focused and stick to the plan,” Daniel said. “I'm not going to get my head too big and focus on the numbers. I think I'm just gonna stick to playing for the person next to me.”
Along with Daniel, fourth-year middle-infielder Haley Wynn is also returning. In 2022, she was second on the team with 35 runs batted in (RBIs) and third on the team with a .275 batting average.
One of the strengths of this team to Wynn is the culture and the Cardinals' chemistry.
“We've worked really hard over the past couple years to build this culture and continue it with the new girls that come in every single year,” Wynn said. “These girls are some of the best friends, and you have total trust and respect for every single person.”
The Cardinals open their season Feb. 17 against Samford in Birmingham, Alabama. From there, the team will continue to face teams in the southern part of the country in multiple tournaments. Those include the Blazer Bash in Birmingham, Alabama, Murray State Tournament, the Bulldog Classic in Athens, Georgia and the Liberty Flames Classic.
There are some games sprinkled throughout the first half of the season where the Cardinals play teams a few rounds away from the college world series.
Ball State’s first conference series will be at Kent State. They will then make their home debut against Central Michigan Mar. 24.
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