Mays Landing —
Self-doubt has put Mainland’s varsity softball team on the losing end of the season’s first three games.
When the team got tired of being down on themselves, during the fifth inning of the team’s most recent game on Wednesday, April 4, against Oakcrest, the Lady Mustangs’ performance made an upswing, according to junior Jessica Higbee.
Wednesday’s game against Oakcrest was shaky for the ‘Stangs through the first few innings.
After the fourth inning, “We decided that this game we were going to be as loud as we could be no matter what and see what happens,” Higbee said.
Here’s what happened: the girls picked up their batting and “ran their hearts out,” Higbee said.
Though Mainland is 0-3 this season, Higbee reported a gradual improvement each game.
“We’re getting a lot better at picking ourselves up and it changes the mood of the game,” Higbee explained.
While not victorious, Mainland’s 11-5 loss to Oakcrest on April 4 was the team’s strongest game of the season.
Mainland fell to Atlantic City 7-0 on Monday, April 2. The girls also fell 19-0 to Kingsway, which Mainland Head Coach Frank Marascio called one of the state’s top softball teams, on March 31.
“We put that one away,” Marascio said on the loss to Kingsway, before Wednesday’s game. “We look at it like we’re 0-1, not 0-2.”
Marascio was optimistic about the team’s possibilities, despite finishing the last two seasons without winning records.
Mainland won two games in their 2009-2010 season and finished the 2010-2011 season 3-15, Marascio said.
“Every year we’ve gotten a little bit better,” Marascio said. “I really like the outlook of this year. I think we could be .500 or better.”
Though optimistic, Marascio admitted the team was “a work in progress.”
The young team includes three seniors, co-captains Pauline Rusciano, Marks and Katie Boudreau.
The ‘Stangs have a core group of six or seven juniors, including some returning varsity players, three sophomores and several freshmen, Marascio said.
Mainland expected to be tested April 5 to 11 in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Disney 2012 Softball Spring Training at the Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida.
Marascio said that Mainland was to play teams from Wisconsin, Tennessee and New York, and said that the games would count towards Mainland’s regular season record.
It is the first time Mainland has attended the training in more than four years, Marascio said.
“It’s a nice team bonding experience,” Marascio said, adding that the team’s congeniality was one of their strongest assets.
“The girls like each other and they’re learning every day,” Marascio said.
“We’re coming together well as a team,” Boudreau said.
“We have a lot of younger girls, but we’re also a little more experienced this year,” Marks said. “It all depends on if we want it or not.”
When Mainland returns from Florida, they will face Hammonton at home on Monday, April 16 at 4 p.m. They will play Egg Harbor Township on Wednesday, April 18 on 4 p.m.