By Trystan Rushia @trystanrushia
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies softball team travels to Sortino Field at the University of Massachusetts for the start of the A-10 tournament on Wednesday, May 6.
This is the first time the Bonnies have made the tournament since 2009. A huge factor in the Bonnies making the tournament came was St. Joe’s cancelling the rest of their softball season due to a hazing probe.
“It was surreal. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I never heard of anything like that happening,” said coach Mike Threehouse.
“We’re happy to make the tournament. It feels good. It took a lot of stress and worry off us.”
The Bonnies go in with an A-10 record of 7-11 (.389 win percentage) to squeak by UMass’s 8-14 (.363 win percentage) record to secure the sixth seed and face the third-seeded Fordham Rams.
In the two-game regular season series, the Bonnies split with the Rams, with a 4-3 win and a 10-4 loss.
When it comes to tournament experience, Fordham, the reigning back-to-back A-10 champions, edges out the Bonnies. The current roster for the Bonnies has never experienced an A-10 tournament game.
“I’m the only guy with any A-10 Tournament experience, so it’s my job to prepare the girls,” said Threehouse. “We only have one practice before the tournament, so we must seize the moment.”
“Mental toughness is a key, especially in A-10 tournament games,” he continued. “Being at UMass with all of its tradition hanging all around you, you want to get at that same level. You’re either going to respond two ways: be intimidated by it or thrive by it. I’m hoping that our players look at it as an opportunity to thrive to be the best.”
Threehouse realizes that the girls must all step up in order to beat the Rams.
“Fordham is a good team,” he said. “They can hit, field and whatever else, but if we play our best softball, that gives us the best chance to win. If we try to rely on one girl, then it’s hard to win.”
The last stretch of the season, the Bonnies have looked red-hot, winning six of their last nine games.
“If we play like we have down the recent stretch, we have the opportunity to do something special,” said Threehouse.
The Rams have also been red-hot, ending their regular season on a seven game winning streak. Threehouse is looking to the pitching staff and scoring runs as key factors for the Bonnies to be victorious.
“The pitching staff has to be ready, especially for those tight situation moments,” he said. “And what it also comes down to is that if we have a situation to knock in a run or two, we must do it.”