New softball era at CMU

Abrams has Mavericks eager to learn, win

Candace Abrams, right, was watching every detail Saturday during her first practice as Colorado Mesa University’s new softball coach.



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Candace Abrams, right, was watching every detail Saturday during her first practice as Colorado Mesa University’s new softball coach.

It’s not exactly what a self-proclaimed “Arizona girl” had in mind when softball season rolled around.

Frigid temperatures, snow frozen on the ground ...

“I just talked to my former coaches, and it’s 70 degrees,” Candace Abrams said just before her first official “spring” practice as the Colorado Mesa University softball coach.

The Mavericks, as is their custom, have already shoveled the snow off the infield at Bergman Field and got as much off the outfield as possible, hoping for sun and warmer temperatures to take care of the rest.

For the time being, though, they’ll practice in the Maverick Pavilion, the indoor recreation/practice facility adjacent to the Maverick Center.

“It’s projected in the high 30s this week, and by next Saturday it’s supposed to be almost 40,” Abrams said. “I’m crossing my fingers. We’re hoping to get on the field Saturday and intrasquad a little bit. That’s what we’re shooting for.”

The Mavs were just fine taking ground balls off the sport court in the pavilion. They were eager to get going and see just what the new era of Maverick softball will bring.

After 19 seasons, Kris Mort retired from coaching last spring to become a full-time administrator at CMU.

“It’s definitely a big change, that’s for sure,” senior catcher Megan Smith said. “Last semester (Abrams) came in a little bit before school started and called everybody, ‘Hey, I’m in town if you want to come in a little early and get to know me.’ She was real open, and that made us feel a lot more comfortable after the big change.”

After fall practice and conditioning, the Mavericks have gotten to know Abrams and have quickly adopted her philosophy.

“They bring in a whole different perspective,” senior middle infielder Lisa Pille said. “Instead of being stuck in our ways the last three years, we’ve got a new way of looking at things. I think we’re going to be really good.

“We were a little on edge because we hadn’t formed any relationships with our new coach, but I think what we’ve made is going to (lead to) a great year for us. We’re really glad we’ve got the coaches we do.”

Roughly half the team returns from last season, but several of those either redshirted or didn’t get a lot of playing time. The Mavericks return the middle infield of Pille and Taylor Gross, as well as Smith behind the plate.

The entire outfield is gone, though, and only one pitcher, junior Ashley Pulido, returns.

The Mavericks got right to work Saturday, working on bunt defense and infield situations in the Mav Pav.

“We can pretty much set up the whole field; it’s a little short for the outfielders, but we can do a full infield,” Abrams said.

Not only was having the entire first semester good for the players to get to know Abrams, it gave the new coach a good look at her first team.

“I’m loving every single part of it,” Abrams said. “I’m loving getting to know their personalities. Their work ethic and attitude has been awesome.”

And, Pille said, the Mavs have been quick to adopt Abrams’ philosophies.

“They’re really successful and really determined to win,” Pille said of the coaching staff.

Abrams brought in Ryan Wigley and Mercedes Lovato, both former assistants at Cal Lutheran. She worked with both on the staff of Players Edge Elite travel team in Bakersfield, Calif.

“With our coaches being so successful in their backgrounds and being so knowledgeable, they’re able to teach us so much,” Pille said. “I think we’re going to have a really strong team this year.”

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