Chemistry, consistency propel softball to best season in recent history

Junior Guerrero

After securing their first Mountain West title in 14 years, the Rams pulled off a gritty victory in Utah and claimed the greatest season record in CSU history. This, however, didn’t happen overnight.

The softball team put in a lot of hard work and determination to be in the position they are today. When you put in the work in the offseason and throughout the regular season, you’re prepared for a long season and the big moments that come with it.

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They knew this season was different from previous years because of the chemistry that was built between one another. Once they started to click, the Rams were ready to make some noise.

Ashley Michelena crosses home plate to a celebration with her teammates after hitting a home run in the game against Fresno State. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

“We’re still loving the game at this point in the season and that’s not easy to do,” senior Amber Nelson said. “We’re not tired of playing yet, where in seasons past we’ve been tired at this point and ready for it to be done. Now it feels like it’s just starting.”

The team chemistry this season is special and is obvious to anyone who watches this team play together.

“I think a big difference from this season to past seasons is that everyone bought in from the beginning,” senior Danni Klein said. “We had a lot of team bonding in the fall and that was the foundation for us having good chemistry. Every week it’s somebody new and that’s been really awesome for us. (We) love the game, having fun with each other and just being on the field with each other. That’s been different from the past.”

The foundation has proved key for the Rams to build on.

“Overall we’re consistent,” Head Coach Jen Fisher said. “We’ve had some flashes of really good stuff, especially last year. We locked up some more consistency in getting Jarecki and Gilmore and that has helped out Hutton to be her best. We’re more consistent (in the circle) and we’re obviously scoring a lot of runs, so were more consistent throughout the line up.”

This season, the Rams were out to prove a point. They were motivated to prove the doubters wrong and even used previous scenarios in school history as motivation. Last season during a game that got snowed out, the Rams organized a sit-in at the indoor practice facility to protest inequality between teams at CSU.

This situation wasn’t at the top of their list of reasons why they wanted to succeed this season, but it was definitely on the list.

“The sit-in played a factor, but it wasn’t really the focus when we came back this year,” Nelson said. “Half the team is new so they weren’t here for it. … A lot of them didn’t really know everything about it. It definitely played a factor, but it wasn’t the biggest motivation for me personally.”

While the protest was an important moment in team history, it was about more for the Rams this season. It wasn’t just about facilities, but proving their ability as a team.

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“We have great support at Colorado State for women’s athletics. We’ve seen that with women’s volleyball and women’s basketball and the success that they’ve had. We’ve felt a lot of that support over the years, but it’s so exciting for us to be able to put that great product on the field and that our fans are super engaged.” Head Coach Jen Fisher

“It was big for us to do that as a team, but it wasn’t our main focus. It kind of put a chip our shoulder and we wanted to prove a point; that we are here and put ourselves on the map,” said Klein. “We were predicted to be seventh in the conference and were just like you know what? We’re here… we’re good.”

That attitude has taken them far.

“In this environment, our team has felt like they can speak up and has felt empowered,” Fisher said. “Without the positive environment both at CSU and for women athletes, I don’t think they would’ve felt empowered to do that. That has been a plus for us; that we do have strong young women on our team.”

The Rams are grateful for the support they’ve received throughout the entire year. Having the seats filled up at every home game and hearing the noise of the crowd has pushed them to do the best that they can on game days.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Nelson said. “We’ve had a lot of fans at every game here at home, way more than there’s been in the past. There’s people bringing their lawn chairs and sitting in the outfield… It’s a really fun environment to play in and whenever something happens you can hear them cheering. I’m really thankful that they’ve been coming out to all the games and it’s been a really unique experience compared to years past.”

Isabella Navarro celebrates with Jordan Acosta after scoring a run after her teammate hit a home run with two players on base during the first Colorado State Classic March 1. The Rams won all three games they were able to play during the Classic. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

The current facilities don’t boast enough seating for a truly impressive crowd, but the team gets by with the digs they have.

“Even though we don’t have a bunch of seating for people, they still come and stand on the hill and go in the outfield,” Klein said. “I think that has given us a lot of energy. We can feel the energy and the excitement from our fans and that’s given us that much more momentum. The coverage by our media team has (been) awesome (they do a great) job and has been better than years past. The coverage and the energy from our fans has given us something to be exited about.”

That support has meant a lot to the team and propelled their success even further.

“We have great support at Colorado State for women’s athletics,” Fisher said. “We’ve seen that with women’s volleyball and women’s basketball and the success that they’ve had. We’ve felt a lot of that support over the years, but it’s so exciting for us to be able to put that great product on the field and that our fans are super engaged.”

In a year with few bright spots in CSU athletics, the softball team made their games a can’t-miss event and proved to everyone that they’re the real deal. Even without lights allowing them to play games at night, the future is bright for CSU softball.

Junior Guerrero can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @juniorg45.