GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Five practices are all the University of North Dakota softball team will have before jumping into the 2013 fall season, which starts on Sunday with the UND Invitational.
With eight new faces on the squad this year, the fall season provides a perfect opportunity for head coach Eric Oakley to figure out his team’s strengths and weaknesses before starting conditioning for the spring season.
“In the fall, especially with so many freshmen, we just want to see everyone play,” coach Oakley said. “Overall, what I think we get most out of the fall is a gauge of team chemistry and what it will take to get our freshmen ready for the spring.
“Whenever you go at it right away, you’re not going to be completely ready. So this is really just to see some different pitching and see how the players are when they come together as a team. The overall goal is to get on the field and just play some games.”
The fall season starts on Sunday with North Dakota hosting MSU-Moorhead, Mayville State and Minot State for the UND Invitational. UND hosts Minnesota Crookston and University of Mary on Sept. 22 and travels to Valley City State for a doubleheader on Sept. 28.
However, the biggest date on the fall schedule is Sept. 14, when North Dakota State comes to Grand Forks for a double header. Being the only Division I opponent on the fall schedule, NDSU will provide the team with its best look at what the spring competition will be like.
“NDSU is one of the top programs in the region and that will be a really good test,” Oakley commented. “They’re more along the lines of teams that we’ll see during the championship segment of our season. Playing against North Dakota State will give us most of what we need to see in regards of what we need to work on with our freshm