As the Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1-1) prepare for the ACC/Big 10 Challenge this Friday, junior infielder Olivia Gray graciously answered my questions a day after returning from the teams trip to Fullerton, California. Pitt concluded their participation in the Titan Classic this past Sunday.
Gray certainly did her part during the Panthers five games in the tournament. She averaged .353 from the plate and tallied 4 runs, 1 RBI, and her first triple of the year; Olivia registered a hit in four of the five games. In the field, she recorded 20 assists and was responsible for 7 putouts while averaging a .931 fielding percentage.
So what did the Panthers learn about themselves out West, and how will they carry that over into the ACC/Big 10 Challenge? Here is what Olivia had to say about it:
Q1: Olivia, how did the team come together both on and off the field while you were in CA?
“Great - we had tremendous fight, which was really cool to be a part of. I think we have one of the closest teams in the ACC in regards to friendship and love for one another. Team chemistry is a huge factor in a team sport like softball, and I think our team nails that aspect of the game.”
Q2: What do you feel the strength(s) of the team are, and where does the team still need to improve?
“We have a lot of experienced upperclassmen who are leading this team in the right direction. We only graduated one senior, so we are all looking to make something special out of this year, especially the seniors who already had a taste of what an NCAA run is like. I think that we have a lot of talent on the team, and have a great chance of making a name for Pitt if we continue to work on playing within ourselves and trusting our abilities.”
Q3: What is the mindset of the team going into the ACC/Big 10 Challenge?
“We are ready. We want to represent. We are itching to showcase what we have worked on all off-season.. and of course, it never hurts to have bragging rights.”
Q4: How important are these early season tournaments in terms of building chemistry among the players both on and off the field?
“Like I said before, I think our team has great chemistry both on and off the field. We are blessed with that. I think if anything, the preseason tournaments are important in helping to build our confidence. They teach us how to be resilient and how to bounce back when things aren’t exactly going as planned, which is a huge factor when finally getting into ACC play.”