BY JOHN GOLDFARB
The County College of Morris Titans softball team won the Garden State Athletic Conference championship in 2013, competed in the Region XIX playoffs countless times, and secured a position in the Junior College World Series. Coaches and players feel confident about the upcoming season and aspire to go back to the JUCO World Series and win it all.
Diana Fleischman, a returning CCM softball player, said she has a good feeling about the chemistry of the softball team for this upcoming season.
“We’re going to have a good season,” Fleischman said. “I feel like the chemistry of our team is very good this year after fall ball; we work well together and I think we’re going to make it far.”
Fleischman, also said that Coach Wardlow is recruiting and his progress has been tremendous for the 2014 season.
“My coach is doing a lot of recruiting right now for us and he’s actually been finding a lot of girls that are going to be able to fill in for the spots we lost and hopefully those girls will be able to help us just as well as the girls we lost,” Fleischman said.
In the past four years, the team was one of the top four teams in the region. They won 37 games in the last season and had a chance to go to the JUCO World
Series, according to Coach Greg Wardlow. He said it’s going to be a challenge to follow up such a good year, but they’re optimistic about recruiting new players.
“We lost players through academic failure, we had a couple kids get injured, [and a] couple of kids who had problems with personal finances that couldn’t continue in school in the spring,” he said. “Our roster went from 22 kids in the fall, to nine or 10 in the spring.”
Wardlow, also said the team has a couple of walk-ons and a couple of transfers from Mont- clair State University, who will try and help the team out this season despite the reduced roster.
“We like to think that our softball program here compares favorably with the four-year schools in the area insomuch as; we have a fall season of scrimmages against four schools, where kids get visibility. We do some off-season conditioning, we play a robust 50-game schedule, we go to Florida on spring break,” Wardlow said. “[It’s the] same kind of things that higher level four-year schools do; we provide that softball experience for our softball players as well.”
Wardlow said they recruit continuously, though now is the time to recruit prospective 2014 high school graduates. Some CCM softball players may have had aspirations to play for a 4-year institution, so CCM tries to provide as much as they can so these students can still have a great experience here.
“It’s a little hard, going into it now because we lost a lot of girls from last year, a lot of key players,” said Monica Rinn, a returning softball player. “I think we’re going to be okay because we got some really good girls now and see what happens. I think everyone’s goal now is to get to Mississippi, so I think I’m confident in where we’re going.”
Rinn said she still believes that CCM softball will “absolutely” have a winning season despite the loss in players from the previous season.
“I come from a technical high school… and we struggled probably, my whole sports career; my final year there, we made it to states and did anything we could’ve possibly imagined to do at that level,” Rinn said. “So I think it’s always a possibility, it’s just going to be a lot of work for it and kinda get a little luck.”
Rinn said that once a team wins a game in a tournament, they achieve motivation to win the whole tournament.
“I think any player of any sport will tell you the same thing, if they want to go as far as they can go,” Rinn said. “Last year when we were playing in the states tournament,we lost the first game and won the second, and coming off that win we felt like we [could] win it all… I think that would be the motivation to go.”