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Incoming First-Year Softball Players Prepare For College

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With senior year of high school now complete for the graduating class of 2020, incoming first-year student-athletes around the country are one step closer to turning their college softball dreams into a reality.

Softball America spoke with some of those incoming college softball student-athletes and discussed what made them choose their future programs and what they are most excited about for their first year on the college level.

See our conversation below with Appalachian State's Shelby Cornett, Greensboro College's Erica Edwards, USC Upstate's Darbie Lisk, Lees-McRae College's Raygan Rensing, Winthrop's Vianna Rodriguez and East Carolina's Lauren Strnad.

Softball America: What made you choose your college or university?

Shelby Cornett: I chose App because it was the school I fell in love with when I first stepped on campus. I love the weather and the atmosphere produced by the athletic teams and those who support them. Every single person gives their all for App State and I wanted to be a part of that. They also have one of the best programs for my major and I wanted to take part in that.

Erica Edwards: While looking for schools to possibly attend in the future, the biggest factor that I looked for was a school that was close to home. Greensboro is close to home, so that made it one of the top schools on my list. Through my recruiting process and attending camps and clinics at Greensboro, the coaching staff and softball players were very welcoming and helpful. During my visit, I loved that they had the major that I was interested in pursuing, which is criminal justice. They offer small classes which means a lot of one-on-one time with my professors and lastly, I love that Greensboro has a small campus. After finishing my first visit at Greensboro College, I knew that it was the school I wanted to go to.

Darbie Lisk: I chose Upstate because of the coaches, mostly. They coach the way I like to play.

Raygan Rensing: I chose LMC because I love the atmosphere of the team and the campus really fit what I was looking for.

Vianna Rodriguez: I chose Winthrop because it was the one college that truly felt like home.

Lauren Strnad: I chose East Carolina because the atmosphere was amazing. The school and the community surrounding it is so involved. Everyone supports one another and shows school spirit. I've always wanted to be a part of something like that.

SA: What is your favorite thing about the program you are entering? 

Cornett: My favorite thing is the family feel. Everyone supports one another, no matter what. Like I said before, everyone gives their all and comes together for App.

Edwards: My absolute favorite thing about Greensboro is that it offers small classes. Like I said before, I will be able to have more one-on-one time with my professors in case I don’t completely understand the material.

Lisk: My absolute favorite thing about the school is the location. Even though it’s five hours away from my hometown, I can have the mountains, the beach, city and country within hours of me and it’s beautiful there all year.

Rensing: My favorite thing about my school is how the school is really involved in the community, and LMC has a lot of fun ways for students to interact with one another.

Rodriguez: My favorite thing about my school is the diversity.

Strnad: My favorite thing about East Carolina is how supportive everyone is. Just by wearing a shirt that has a pirate on it, it starts a conversation with a stranger and you can feel the support.

SA: Are you already forming bonds with your future teammates, especially those in your own class?

Cornett: Yes. We have three, sometimes four, Zoom calls a week where we get to know one another and our coaches much better. Our coaches preach family and support, and so having this time to do that is going to make us stronger for the season. In regard to my class, we are already a very tight-knit group.

Edwards: While attending so many camps and clinics at Greensboro, I became very close with players that were already on the team. I also have a couple girls on the team that I had played with on previous travel ball teams, so that was an advantage for me. As for the girls in my class, I got to meet all of them on my official visit. We did a lot of team bonding, including the girls that were already on the team, so we were able to create bonds very quickly. I keep in touch with most of them on a daily basis. I will also be rooming with another 2020 recruit that will be attending Greensboro as well.

Lisk: Yes. I have already formed some really great bonds with a few of the softball girls and I follow a few of the other student-athletes on social media.

Rensing: I’m starting to form bonds with the girls in my class, but especially my roommate.

Rodriguez: We have been doing Zoom calls as a full team, and also ones with just our classes. My class is already super close.

Strnad: I believe that I’m forming bonds. I met two out of four of the other recruits about a year ago. At our official visit is when I think we really started bonding with girls who were already on the team. There’s so much we wanted to learn, so getting to be there with the whole team gave us a chance to get a feel for what we are about to do in the years to come.

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SA: What are you most excited about for your first year of college softball?

Cornett: I'm excited to get to work in the weight room and practice with my team. I'm also ready to play in the fall with them. I'm so excited to finally experience college with the people I'm going to be with for the next four years.

Edwards: For my freshman year, I am most excited about officially being a college student-athlete and getting used to the lifestyle of a college student-athlete. I’m ecstatic about working on my craft every day and just getting better and being able to showcase my talent on the field.

Lisk: I think the thing that I’m most excited about is being able to live on my own and being able to have the college experience of figuring things out by myself.

Rensing: I’m most excited about meeting new people and starting the next chapter in my life.

Rodriguez: I’m most excited for the opportunity to be independent and fail and learn on my own.

Strnad: I’m really excited to just be a part of a team that’s so strong and so supportive. I know I’ll be surrounded by so many great girls and coaches. I’m most excited to be around them and share our common goal.

SA: How have you been preparing for college softball?

Cornett: I have been lifting and training at my athletic facility, hitting daily, going to the cage two times a week with my dad and working on my long toss.

Edwards: I have been preparing for the season by doing tee work, throwing with my dad and working on strength and cardio. About a month ago, I received an email from my coach containing summer workouts until school starts, which is a 15-week plan. We have to start with a normal Greensboro warmup, which is running two laps along with various stretches. Then, we’re supposed to do three days of strength and then two days of conditioning. After every five weeks, we switch, so then I do two days of strength and three days of conditioning. It also contains nutrition facts to help me eat better and make healthier decisions when eating.

Lisk: I’ve been doing daily workouts sent to me by my school, alongside personal workouts and hitting and fielding lessons to prepare me for both summer ball and college ball in the fall.

Rensing: I’ve been following our workout schedule and continuing to practice to get ready. I’ll also be playing in some tournaments this summer to get ready.

Rodriguez: I have been working out a lot for the upcoming season. I want to make sure I arrive in the best shape possible. I have also been doing tons of reps and working on my mental game.

Strnad: To prepare for next year, I have been going to the field as often as I can and have been doing a lot of working out to get stronger. We just recently received our workouts from our trainer, so I just started doing those as well.

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