Spring time is here and Tech softball is back and arguably better than ever. Last June, Tech hired Aileen Morales to be the new head softball coach for the Jackets. Morales played softball at Tech from 2005-2008 and then went on to be an assistant coach for the Jackets from 2009-2013. During her time at Tech, the Jackets won four ACC regular-season championships and averaged an impressive 43 wins per season.
Morales came back to Tech after spending a year as head coach at Radford University. While at Radford, she led a team that had won only 12 games in the previous season to a winning 35-26 record after just one season; she has a track record of accomplishing significant improvement. That being said, when Tech softball began the 2018 season with a dismal 0-4 record, fans were hoping to see an impressive turnaround like the one at Radford. It looks like there might just be one.
The Tech softball season began on Feb. 9 with a tough loss against Lipscomb which was followed up by three more back-to-back losses against Florida A&M, Georgia State and Nebraska. However, things are beginning to look up for the Jackets following strong wins against Indiana and several other schools, including a notable 8-0 win against Campbell University. Tech softball is now sitting on a promising 6-6 record, leaving a burning question: What has caused the change?
Recently, junior Katie Krzus has been a key player for the Jackets and has started in 11 out of the 12 games played thus far. Krzus was a huge contributor in Tech’s victory over Campbell, scoring two home runs that brought her to a grand total of five home runs already this season. She also has the second highest batting average on the team behind standout freshman Cameron Stanford. Stanford already has two home runs herself this season and, as a freshman, will certainly continue to prove herself as a huge asset to the team in years to come.
It could be argued that because Tech has not yet begun official ACC play, the team’s victories may be short-lived. Indeed, the opponents that Tech has played thus far might not be an accurate representation of the competition that is to come. After all, Indiana had only won one game when they played Tech, and Indiana makes up two of Tech’s six total wins so far. However, with a stout 7-8 record, Campbell was not a team to underestimate, yet the Jackets did not have any trouble run ruling the team in an 8-0 rout. In addition, when Tech played the 4-5 Fairfield University team for the first time, they lost 3-4 but then dominated the second matchup against Fairfield 13-4, demonstrating an ability to learn from their mistakes (or at the very least, resilience).
Regarding this victory, Coach Morales responded by saying, “I am proud of how our team competed today. We learned a lot about the level of play we are capable of as well,” courtesy of ramblinwreck.com.
In regards to the question of what exactly triggered the team’s change in momentum, it would be foolish to attribute the team’s success to pure luck. It takes leadership and dedication to change the direction in which a team is going, and this leadership is evident first and foremost in head coach Morales, who has proven herself several times already by improving softball programs and being able to maintain their success.
With a head coach that has a track record like Morales and standout players that get the job done, the future is bright for Tech softball. That positive future may not be evident as the season wears on and the Jackets find themselves outmatched against talented conference foes, but with the right coach, the right athletes and the right approach all in place,
the foundation has been set for long-term success.