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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Press conference takeaways going into Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

Photo by Robert O’Brien

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Following an exciting weekend of softball, Texas A&M hosted a press conference with coach Trisha Ford, sophomore pitcher Emiley Kennedy and freshman outfielder Riley Valentine on Tuesday, Feb 21. The Aggies returned home from a tournament in Florida in which they secured two top-25 ranked wins, against the Arizona Wildcats and UCF Knights, respectively. There is a quick turnaround, however, as the now No. 19 Aggies fly to Cathedral City, Calif. where they will take part in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Growth going into big tournament
Coach Ford opened the press conference with praise for her team for how they played in Florida. She mentioned the big wins but also brought up the two losses over the weekend, using them as lessons for the team in preparation and finishing games. Ford was then asked about the upcoming tournament and the great teams that they would be seeing.
“It’s exciting, honestly,” Ford said. “I think traditionally at A&M we have played, just being blunt, a softer pre-conference schedule, and I feel like our players are really excited to go and play the best competition … It’s a great opportunity for us to see where we’re at, what we need to work on, and how close or how far we are.”
Ford went on to say that the team as a whole seemed to play with more and more confidence throughout the weekend, with the game against Arizona being the biggest area of growth up to this point. The pitching staff was a recipient of praise from Ford, exceeding expectations up to this point. Offensively, the team, especially the younger players, impressed against tough competition as well.
“As we play more and as these younger players get more experience, I think you’re going to start to see them get more comfortable and settle in,” Ford said.
Looking ahead to the games this weekend, coach Ford stated that they would simulate these tough teams in their practices, which are limited due to their long travel days. The main goal for the Aggies, however, is to focus on themselves and to improve their process. Similarly, Ford discussed that the improved ranking was not on her mind whatsoever.
Excitement in the program
The players, Kennedy and Valentine, revealed that the team’s success in Florida was a great starting place for what they hope continues this season.
“I feel like we knew what we were capable of, we just hadn’t really seen it out on the field yet,” Kennedy said. “This weekend really just put it in our eyes and we saw that we can do it.”
Similarly, they mentioned that they were excited and well prepared for the upcoming Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in California. They cited the toughness of the SEC and how these tournaments continue to aid the Aggies as they approach conference play.
“I think it’s gonna prepare us really well, I mean look at the teams we’re playing, can’t get any better than that,” Valentine said. “I think that is going to definitely prepare us for our SEC play and we’re super excited.”
Valentine also mentioned how the coaching staff has cultivated a culture of good team chemistry, and she cited this as one of the reasons why the Aggies are playing so well at the moment. The older players continue to preach to the youth that they should not let these games get too big and that they can beat anyone if they play their style of softball.
The Aggies will face a solid BYU team on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. before a 10 p.m. game against Cal State University Northridge. The big stories of the weekend will be how the Aggies fare against first and second ranked teams in the nation, playing No. 2 Oklahoma on Friday, Feb. 24, and No. 1 UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 25.

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