Fifth-year softball coach Julie Perrelli G’04, PhD’09, recalls that last year her team faced opponents who had never even heard of Springfield College.
Her players, with their competitive style of play and their strong, ethical characters, made sure those opponents will know Springfield College going forward. “I hope that if we ever cross paths again that they remember us as a high-quality team that played the right way,” she says.
The fact that Springfield College players have an impact on those they face is not an accident. A strong team work ethic and solid coaching, combined with the generous donations to the softball program through the Friends of Springfield College Athletics (FOSCA), elevate the team’s ability to achieve success, she says.
“A little can do so much. We have very generous donors, but there is a lot of work to be done, especially to keep our players and opponents safe on our field and in our facilities,” Perrelli says. “The wear and tear on the facilities requires a significant investment, and hopefully, we can benefit from the support of alumni, parents, and friends to help us in that cause.”
Potter Field and its bullpens need work, for instance, she says, noting a little elbow grease put toward grading the field and the development of stadium seating would go a long way.
To be more competitive nationally, the Springfield College softball team travels each season to Florida to play against some of the best Division III teams in the country. Donations to the program through FOSCA help relieve the financial stress of the team and coaches traveling to Florida and staying for nine days.
“By playing 20 percent of our overall schedule and 60 percent of the out-of-conference schedule in Florida, our team gets to experience national competition, bond as a team, and limit the impact weather has on the season,” says Perrelli, an assistant professor of physical education.
A variety of factors helped lead the 2013 softball team to the NCAA championship tournament, at which the team knocked off two early-round opponents before finishing the season at 28-20. The NCAA appearance was preceded by Perrelli’s first-ever New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship (NEWMAC) as Springfield College coach.
Including “NCAA Division III championships” in the conversation about the softball team brings more positive attention to the program and lets student-athletes see that they are playing at an extremely high level, she says.
“The NCAA tournament felt like a fresh start. The energy was infectious. We were happy to be a part of the experience, and achieve some success in competition,” says Perrelli, who also earned NEWMAC Coach of the Year honors. “It’s nice to be able to share our talent on that type of scale. Playing with the best teams in the region, and the eventual national champion was a great testament to the capabilities of our team, thanks in large part to our team of supporters who enhance our program.”