DURHAM, N.C. – With the first season in program history now a month away, the Duke Blue Devil softball squad hit the diamond for its first set of practices of the inaugural 2018 campaign Monday at the Duke Softball Stadium.
It was a full day for the Blue Devils, who spent time in the weight room, cages and on the field to officially open the new year.
“Today was awesome and we are so proud of them as a coaching staff,” Marissa Young said. “Obviously the energy of day one is always there, but to see where they are as far as their level of play and to know how much work they put in over the break to stay at this level makes us really proud as a staff.”
Young’s squad began its day with an early morning session in the weight room before the program’s first practice of the new year inside the Duke Softball Stadium. That was followed by some light work on the turf field of Duke field hockey’s Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium to close out the morning. After breaking for lunch, Duke returned for an afternoon session on their home field, focusing on a number of skills and working on in-game scenarios.
One of the major focuses from the fall and in the first day of the spring semester has been acclimating the squad to cold temperatures. Highs reached into the upper 40s, but dropped towards the end of the second session, providing a glimpse into how some of the season’s earlier games will feel.
“This team has shown toughness and they are going to get out there and work their butts off regardless of the weather,” Young said. “As a coaching staff we just have to manage and monitor how much time we spend out there and don’t overdo it.
“It is important for pitchers to learn to throw in the cold and for everyone, from a mental standpoint, to not let that affect our play. They did a really good job of staying locked in.”
Duke will return to practice Tuesday before having Wednesday off. The Blue Devils will take the field Thursday and Friday for afternoon sessions to wrap up the opening week of work.
“We want to continue to hone in on the details of our fundamentals,” Young said. “But we also want to continue to progress them from a mindset of what needs to be done come game time.”
The Blue Devils will open their first season in program history in Boca Raton, Fla., taking on Florida Atlantic in a doubleheader Thursday, Feb. 8 starting at 5 p.m. ET. Duke will also face Ohio State, Michigan State and Boston to wrap up the opening weekend.
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