Northeastern softball is currently ranked third in the nation.
Oh, you didn’t know we had a softball team?
Well, we are the club softball team, but since there is no varsity softball squad, we’re the best Northeastern’s got.
And we’re pretty damn good, to boot.
We haven’t always been good. The club softball program at Northeastern started up in 2010 as a member of the National Softball Association. It took the team a few years to work out the kinks, establish ground rules and gain the sense of determination that is required to be taken seriously in the league.
When I joined the team freshman year, we went 4-10. Each year we have improved and improved, up to last year, where we qualified for our regional tournament for the first time ever. Then, not only did we qualify for regionals, we qualified for the World Series which was held in Georgia last May. To go from 4-10 to World Series contenders in four years speaks miles to the talent of my teammates, the quality of our coaching and our commitment to seeing this program reach the next level.
Having to face the top teams in the nation, we unfortunately went winless at the World Series last year. We took it as a learning opportunity and a chance to set new goals for this season.
We haven’t stopped thinking about a return bid since. We started holding team workouts last summer starting in July, and have been having two to three practices per week since. Whether it be working out in Cabot cage from 10 p.m. to midnight, or making the trek to batting cages in Watertown, our team has not stopped working towards reaching the World Series again.
Practicing is rarely easy. Northeastern has no home softball field. We make due with turf spots and draw our own field down when we need to practice. The club sports staff does their best to juggle all the different teams, but it is a tough and usually thankless job. They have 50-plus teams all vying for the good practice times in Cabot or at Parsons Field, and as many club sports athletes would confirm, even the ‘good’ practice times usually aren’t ideal. Intramural sports also gets priority over club sports, so we will usually end up with the midnight slot in Cabot since intramural cornhole receives the premium Cabot time.
The new Carter Field should have a softball field once it opens next year, so hopefully next year our team will get to host home games on our actual campus. We always make the best of what we get though, and use every minute we can to get better.
Part of why we have been so successful is the grit we have shown as a team. The New England weather rarely is our friend, and the city of Boston doesn’t have a ton of softball fields available to rent for practice or games. Nevertheless, we persisted.
This fall, we went 16-1.
And not just any 16 wins – we outscored our opponents by 135 runs.
168 runs scored in 17 games, and only 28 allowed.
You don’t win games without great pitching, and we have some stellar new pitchers on the team. Alexis Schengrund and Lauren Neudorf, our new studs, recorded a combined 109 strikeouts in only 63 innings pitched. That is crazy. You also don’t win games without great coaching. And we have two great coaches, Frank Bourgeois and Joe Kerns, who have helped steer this ship towards victory. Without their guidance and instruction, we would not have had the fall season we had.
Our performance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the league and other teams. Right now we are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation – and we had never been ranked before. Talk about a helluva season so far.
This historic season goes unnoticed by most, however. We don’t receive a lot of recognition as club sports athletes; we know that. Our accomplishments are rarely highlighted in the school newspapers or on the school’s social media.
However, no one signs up for club sports for the attention of others. We’re not in this for the recognition, free swag, easy practice locations or beautiful home field – because we don’t have any of that. We are in this for the chance to continue playing the sport we love and care so much about.
I know I don’t speak for only myself when I say being on such a talented team is a dream come true as a college student. For many of us on the team, when initially choosing which college to attend, we toyed with Division II and Division III schools where we would be able to continue to play softball. However, we all chose NU for being such a great school, understanding this meant we would likely be sacrificing the ability to continue playing the sport we love. Now though, we get to both attend Northeastern and play softball at a level that is equal to (if not better than) most Division III schools.
So to sum it all up: yes, Northeastern has a club softball team. We are having a historic season and are fully committed to a return to the World Series. And not just returning, but making a name for ourselves down in Columbus, Georgia on the national stage.
Photos by Brian Bae