By Pat Mariboe
Senior Sports Writer
While the weather may not be showing it, it’s that time of year when student athletes begin to trudge over to the JFC for morning lifts and head out to the fields to practice after classes are done. Following a successful and memorable fall and winter sports season, the spring sport athletes are ready to show off their months of training and preparation for the start of the new season.
Both the men and women’s lacrosse teams are off to hot starts and remain undefeated so far this season. The Shoremen started off their season in Georgia with a demanding 13-4 victory over Birmingham Southern. They then went on to defeat No. 15 Washington and Lee 11-9 in an upset before finishing off the week with a wet and rainy 14-8 victory over St. Mary’s College Of Maryland. The Shorewomen also started off their season in the win column with a narrow 10-9 win over Christopher Newport. Both teams will be remaining in Chestertown this spring break to face off in some tough competitions, most notably against longtime rivals Salisbury.
“There isn’t one person on our roster that doesn’t have that game circled,” said freshman attackman Cooper Sloan. “It’s the first day of spring break so it should be packed. Whenever you get a shot at the No. 1 team in the country, it’s going to be a battle, and you have to play your best in all aspects of the game. It being Salisbury and a War on the Shore game just makes it that much more special. We’ve got all the opportunities and talent to do great things this year, it just depends on how we respond to them.”
The Shoremen, who are off to a 3-0 start, are showing positive signs early on in the season.
“So far this season the team overall is doing well,” said Sloan. “We’re definitely still getting better everyday and as long as we can play our best when the tournaments come around we’ll be in great shape and have a shot at completing our tournament goals. There’s leadership from just about everyone on the team and I think that has to do a lot with our success. This team could be a really great lacrosse team; it’s just about how we play and respond and what is put in front of us; it’s all on us.”
The baseball and softball teams started off at a slow pace, but are beginning to show some signs of last season’s stellar play. The Shoremen currently sit at an 0-4 record, but their batting has been hot and they’re looking to turn some of their close defeats into wins, while the Shorewomen have started off their season with a respectable 2-2 record. Both teams will head do Florida.
“I think that the team looks strong and there is great chemistry,” sophomore pitcher and Centennial Conference Player of the Week Maddie Bennett said. “Offensively we have a lot of line drive hitters, and defensively we have a lot of athleticism. We have a lot of talent, but our hard work will pay off in the long run. Florida is a great time to strengthen the team on and off the field. It’s a great bonding opportunity, which translates to players having better communication and chemistry on the field. In addition, we’ll face strong competition that’ll challenge us and highlight areas of our play that we could improve upon.”
Both teams will hopefully have some time to relax on the beaches in Florida this Spring Break, as the softball team will be stationed in Kissimmee and the baseball team will be staying a few hours south of them in Fort Myers. The Shorewomen will be playing in five doubleheaders during their stay while the Shoremen will be taking part in the Gene Cusic Classic.
Freshman pitcher Matthew Furlong said, “I think that the competition down there will definitely prepare us for Conference play when we come back.”
The men and women’s tennis teams will also be traveling to Florida and will be staying in Orlando for the week, less than an hour’s drive away from Kissimmee. Both teams look to get some matches under their belt, as the men’s side has only played in one game this season, a 9-0 victory over Catholic, while the women’s side will be playing in their first game this weekend. The month of April will be a busy one, as all games played in that month will be Centennial Conference matchups.
“This year we started off the season strong with a great team win over Catholic,” said junior John Niswander. “All eight of our healthy players at the time of the match got to play and notched a win at home in front of family and friends, which was pretty cool. We all gained confidence from our individual matches and supported one another as a team. Our time in Florida will help our team improve, because we will be able to bond off the court and become even tighter as a team. We have two competitive matches on our schedule during our trip, which we are looking forward to as great opportunities to keep gaining match confidence as our conference season approaches. The trip is a business trip, but it’s always fun to travel and play tennis as well as have some fun days to see Disney and bond with some of your best friends off the court.”