By Danielle Achin
The FSU softball team won the 2021 MASCAC Regular Season Title and will host this year’s MASCAC Tournament starting Friday, May 14 with the Brst game beginning at 2 p.m.
This year’s tournament is a best of three series between the second seed Bridgewater State Bears and the top seed Rams.
The team is led by Head Coach and Assistant Sports Information Director Larry Miller, who is in his seventh season as FSU’s head softball coach.
Miller began coaching softball for his senior internship at SUNY Cortland, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sports Management.
Due to last year’s cancellation of the sports world, Miller said some athletes on the team unfortunately haven’t played in over 600 days, while the rest of the team consists of freshmen and sophomores who have never played a college game before this season.
Despite these minor setbacks, he and the team were more than ready to run the bases.
“We’re fortunate to have one of the best facilities in our conference outdoors with it being a turf field so we’ve been able to get outside a bit earlier than most folks,” he said.
The women have been practicing since early March and though they are now able to use the Beld, Miller said at times it was challenging having split practices because “softball is just such a team sport.”
The team earned their third consecutive MASCAC Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional Appearance in 2019 and this year, they are determined to go for a fourth.
The team secured the 2021 MASCAC regular season title after a nightcap triumph in a non-conference doubleheader with Salem State Saturday afternoon at Maple Street Field.
“We kind of have it ingrained now that we know what we have to do and now we are ready to just go out and compete,” he said.
Miller has been committed to getting to the root of issues someone on the team may be having. Whether it’s problems with softball or personal life, he’s always looking to find a solution.
“I think my job on campus is to be their number one advocate,” Miller said. “So whether it’s ‘I’m having trouble with this class,’ or ‘I’m not getting along with my roommate,’ or ‘I need to get better at softball,’ any of those things I can help them with. Between the lines we’re competitive and want to win, but at the end of the day my job and goal is to make their college experience as successful as I can.”
Miller said at the end of the day, being able to work with the players and interact with them is why he continues to love his job more every day.
“There’s good days and bad days just like anything else. I hope that I can just be a small part of their positive experience here,” he added.
With 24 athletes on the team, and 10 positions to play, Miller said he keeps his coaching honest and fair when it comes to deciding who is going to play. He added if he isn’t open and honest having conversations about why someone may not be playing, he can’t provide opportunities for improvement.
Miller said the slight change in schedule has made them more creative when it comes to practice and the scheduled game days now back-to-back seem to help them forget about the COVID-19 world.
“Obviously, on the back side there’s a lot of behind the scenes and logistics that we do ahead of time to give ourselves that opportunity to not think about it,” Miller said.
With an overall record of 24-6, the team will be playing four games against Worcester State University this weekend, ending the 2021 regular season and beginning the Conference Championship Series May 14.
Miller said how grateful he is for the sacrifice and dedication from his team to continue to play this season.
He added he hopes everything can get back to a new normal as quickly as possible.
“I say a new normal because I think that as awful as some of the things have been in the past, I think a lot of good has come out of it too,” Miller said. “From the academic side, there’s definitely room for some of the academic landscape to move to a sort of internet-based school as well.
“It’s embracing some of the things that have changed and it’s OK,” he added.
Miller said instead of having a recruit come to Framingham State from far away traveling by plane or car, interviews have been set up over Zoom.
Miller said he’s excited for next semester and wants all students to have the true college experience.
With the administration’s support and the athletes’ commitment, the team has had a successful season, he said.