Experience not coming easily for rained-out softball team

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | 9:23 p.m. CDT; updated 4:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Columbia — For an athletic program that is two years old, experience is key. Stephens College softball is just not getting a chance to gain much experience.

Rain has plagued Columbia and the region this spring, creating a wet obstacle for softball season.

For example, Stephens College softball began play in mid-February and thus far has had 25 scheduled games. Currently, the team is just 0-7. Eighteen games have been postponed or cancelled.

“The weather has been miserable,” coach Ben Lipson said, “and its tough to make up games because of the academic challenges faced by the students at Stephens.”

He added that only three games were played that didn’t have standing water in the outfield.

With the program being only two years old, many players are on the team after lengthy amounts of time away from the sport. They came to Stephens College for academic purposes or to play a different sport. When the team started, students from fashion design majors to volleyball and basketball players decided to renew their softball careers.

“We literally plucked players out of the classroom,” Lipson said, “resurrecting their careers after many had already quit playing.”

Coach Lipson, in his first year as head coach, stressed the fact that a program isn’t built overnight. Each year he is hoping to add a few impact players to the squad and gradually get better. In its first year, the team went 2-27.

The winless record for this season is somewhat deceiving, according to Lipson. He said the seven losses have been against some of the toughest opponents on the schedule, including four games against conference champions from last year, and that the rained out games were more winnable for a team that is looking to improve on its mark from last year.

As an independent team currently without a conference affiliation, Lipson creates his own schedule. In order to advance his program to a higher level of play, he schedules a mixture of more established programs and teams that are in similar positions to Stephens. Stephens softball is joining the American Midwest Conference next season, therefore Lipson is preparing his team with a full spectrum of opponents this season.

The team will try to resume play Wednesday night in Fulton with two rescheduled games against fellow winless team, Westminster College.

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