An ‘NU Insider Report’ with Kaity McInall & Riley Crum
By Emma Davies
Photos by Kaity McInall
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
The Niagara University softball team has returned home after spending 14 days in Hawaii participating in the Hawaii Spring Fling tournament and the Rainbow Wahine Classic.
Seniors Riley Crum and Kaity McInall shared some insights on their experiences in Hawaii, and what their team’s next steps entail.
Q: Do you know why your team chose Hawaii tournaments for spring training over other local/American tournaments? Do you know how your team got the opportunity to compete at these tournaments?
Kaity McInall: Our coach chose the Hawaii Spring Fling because it had big competition, such as teams from the SEC, Big 10 conferences. We did not see great outcomes in our games, however it has prepared us for MAAC play, by playing against such good teams testing our limits.
I’m honestly not sure how we got the opportunity, 100%, but I’m pretty sure our coach knows the University of Hawaii coach, and they invite us every four years.
Riley Crum: The softball team is able to go to Hawaii every four years for spring training. This was the second trip that the team has taken in program history. Through working Buffalo Bills games and other events like concerts at Highmark Stadium, our team is able to fundraise enough money over four years to allow us the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and play our spring games there.
Q: How did your team do overall?
Kaity McInall: Although our record does not show it, I believe the games were successful in my mind. I think that playing against such great competition for two weeks pushed us to be better, and now when MAAC games come around we will be prepared – and they will seem easy compared to what we saw in spring training.
Riley Crum: Although we did not have the results we wanted in terms of wins/losses during our time in Hawaii, I feel as though the trip was still beneficial for the team. I think not having the best results made our team self-reflect and work through some problems very early on. We were able to come together and fix things as a team that made us start to play better softball towards the end of the trip.
Q: What did you learn from this experience, and how will it shape or impact the upcoming season?
Kaity McInall: I learnt from this experience that a team plays better when they have chemistry. In the fall, many people are still shy and don’t get a chance to hang out with everyone; but this trip allowed for so many more people to bond and form connections, and at the end of the trip we started to see more success in our games.
Riley Crum: I think this experience taught us that, in order to be successful, we are going to have to make it happen as a team. Nothing is just going to “go our way” or come easily. We have to make a conscious effort every time we step on the field to play for each other.
Additionally, I think this trip reminded us why we play the game/how fortunate we are to have the opportunities we do. After our first week of not doing so well, one of the girls said that this is it for her. She’s made it as far as she is going to go in her softball career, and she has reached the goal of playing Division 1 softball she had as a child.
I think that this was a reminder that some of us needed, and took some pressure off. At the end of the day, we all are on the team for a reason – and just to play for our younger selves and have fun, and the wins and losses will take care of themselves.
Q: What is next for your team in preparation for the start of the season?
Kaity McInall: To prepare for the start of the season this weekend, we will be continuing to practice and lift, as well as mentally prepare ourselves and handle all distractions before the weekend comes around.
Riley Crum: After coming back from Hawaii, it was nice to be able to have some practices to work out some kinks that became prevalent during our time away. While we were away, we were on a grind of playing games. I think it was 14 games in 15 days. During this trip, there wasn’t a lot of time to analyze or make changes, so it was nice to take a step back and get some practice reps in.
This weekend we are heading to Marist and Quinnipiac to open up MAAC play, so I am excited to get back on the field and prove ourselves.
This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.