Lions round into form and finish road trip on high note

The Lions started off their 2006 season in style with a trip to Florida that started off slowly, but in the end showed promise of a strong season to come.

In the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. the Lions played 10 games against teams from all over the country amassing a 6-4 record.

Playing two games each day, the Lions had trouble scoring runs at the beginning of the trip, going 3-4 over their first seven games. The team was then able to turn the trip around and end it on a positive note by winning their remaining three games.

The Lions picked up wins over Maryville University (Mo.), SUNY Geneseo, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Benedictine University of Illinois (Ill.), Simpson College (Iowa) and Western Connecticut State University during the trip.

The only teams able to defeat the Lions at the Spring Games were Muskingum College (Ohio), the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Webster University (Mo.) and Westminster College (Pa.).

“I think that it is definitely a sign of good things to come,” junior outfielder, Jen Hughes said. “The team on the field worked really well together, had fun and remained positive, which was key for those wins.”

“Those last three games everyone played extremely hard with a lot of heart and pride,” junior pitcher Heather Hoffman said. “I feel and hope that we will all carry it over into our games coming up because it felt really great to be on a winning streak.”

Pitching remained strong throughout the trip. The team allowed an average of only one-and-a-half runs a game over the 10-game span. Hoffman and junior pitchers Julianne Lajiness and Jess Kohut all picked up wins for Lions on the trip. The Lions tossed three shutouts along the way including two by Hoffman and one by Kohut.

Hoffman played a big role in helping the Lions turn the trip around. She pitched both of her shutouts during the team’s three-game winning steak at the end of the trip. Her brilliant pitching performances came against Benedictine University and Western Connecticut State University. Both games ended in 6-0 victories for the College.

While the pitching was strong, the Lions’ bats woke up, especially at the end of the trip, to help take some of the pressure off of the pitching staff.

The Lions averaged just fewer than six runs per game over their six victories. Leading the offensive charge were junior outfielders Kristen Boyer, Hughes, senior catcher Kristen Meister and junior infielder Erin Cusmano.

Hughes was the offensive star of the trip. Over the 10 games she batted .275, while scoring nine runs and accumulating six RBI’s. She was able to come through with big hits in meaningful situations in each of the Lions’ victories.

The team feels that the trip will have a positive impact on the remainder of their season. “I think that it was successful in that it reaffirmed how important a positive attitude is when playing the game,” Hughes said. “The trip also showed us a few things that we need to work on before we face the tough competition in our conference.”

Hoffman hopes that the lessons learned on this trip will help the team play better in upcoming games. “For future competition, we need to face every team with the confidence of knowing what we can accomplish and then hopefully we will win on a more consistent basis.”

The Lions’ season will continue when they put their three-game winning streak on the line on March 25. They will host the University of Rochester in a doubleheader.