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Teamwork the Key to Success in 2017 for Embry Riddle Softball
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31 January 2017  
Embry Riddle softball prepares for the season during practice on Monday January 30th, 2017 at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona All Photos by: Torrence Dunham
Embry Riddle Softball Set to Rebound from Dissapointing 2016 Season

PRESCOTT- The calendar still says January and the softball field, just like the weather, is frigid but that didn’t damper the excitement for Embry Riddle Eagles senior pitcher and San Diego native Keana Nakata on Monday evening in Prescott as the softball team prepared for the upcoming season.

Nakata has been a member of the Eagles softball team since the inception in 2014. However, she was not able to play at all last season due to an injury. As Nakata throws from the circle once again during practice, she is raring to go and help her teammates.

“To actually be back on the field this year, that’s huge for me,” Nakata said. “I want to be there for my team like I know I can be.”

Nakata and her teammates have been placing a heavy emphasis on teamwork and showing up to play each and everyday. The 2016 squad had three players achieve all-conference status but the overall team finished in last place.

“That tells you that we played for ourselves and we didn’t play as a team,” said Embry Riddle Eagles softball head coach Marie Thomason who has managed the team since it’s inception. “This year, I think we compete with each other and we’re competing to be on the field and to beat anyone that we set foot on the field with and I think that’s the difference-that competitive edge.”

The team features a diverse group of talent made up of five freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors each.

Embry Riddle will also return four players who have achieved All Cal-Pac status at least once during their time wearing an Eagle uniform. Seniors Katherine Morgan and Kayla Avram along with juniors Hannah Deluna and Kaila Romero all hit above .300 last year while Katey Moore-who lead the team with 37 RBIs while batting .338 during her freshman season-is set to return for her second campaign.

2017 will also be the first year the team will run a staff of four pitchers, which Thomason believes the depth will set Embry Riddle apart from the competition.

“This year I feel like it’s our first year that we are a program and not just a team,” Thomason said.

The team also includes three backstops adding freshman catchers Taylor Szathmary from Mesa, Arizona and Lancaster, California native Elyssa Bramer.

Bramer already had a connection before hitting the field, as she was teammates and good friends with Romero during their time at Lancaster High School. Entering her first season at the collegiate level, Bramer is ready for the challenge of managing school and an athletic life while becoming closer with her new teammates.

“Everything’s just a higher level, it’s more rigorous not only in the classroom but on the field.” Bramer said. “We are so much more devoted to each other as teammates and do some much more as a team so we’ve become more unified to prepare a season which is really exciting, especially for me as a freshman.”

As the season opener lies just weeks away, the Eagles are out on the field for day and night practices fine-tuning the tools of not only pitching, defense, baserunning and hitting but also team unity.

“Our main thing is to get the team to where we are all together, like our cohesion is on point,” Nakata said. “Our skill level is there, our talent is there, it’s just about getting after it and being that team that we know we can be.”

The Eagles will start the season at the Biola University Tournament in La Mirada, California on Friday February 17th against Biola University before returning home the following Friday for a matchups against William Jessup University (Calif.) at 1pm and 3pm.