By Rachel Zarazan
KINGSTON, R.I. – When the word training in athletics is heard, one immediately rushes to images of weight room chalk clouding the air, sweat hitting the floor, and weight bars with huge metal plates making a thundering crash into racks. However, the training an athlete undergoes to become successful in college involves as much mental work as it does physical.
Junior Sam Bedore can attest for the big transition from high school to college and the work needed on mental and physical strength each year in college.
"I think that I just finally made the transition from knowing where to place pitches from high school into actually executing them in college," Bedore said said Bedore. "My change -up is something I've struggled with since college, I've never had to lift weights before and it takes getting used to have new muscles and a new strength that I haven't had before which affects my pitching."
Transitions take place each year an athlete continues their career. Eventually, their calluses build up, they get less sore after weights (or they are just numb to it), their hands shake a little less as they step out for their first game of the season, and they become confident in the player they have worked to be.
"I prepared this year with a lot of mental work gaining confidence and knowing that I have to focus and do my job for the rest of the team," Bedore said. "I worked on my curve ball a lot in the off-season, which has already really helped me out this year so far. "With the closing of a season comes a new focus on what to work on in the off-season. For this reason, experience is an invaluable asset to any player to work towards being the best they can be.
"I have absolutely, 100 percent, become more consistent as a result of gaining more experience because I know what to expect now as a junior. Even just last year I was iffy on what was to come, but now I'm more certain and confident."
Bedore's experience and confidence has already started to shine through this season. She is fourth in school history at URI in batting average against (.281). Her ability to hold the opponent at low batting averages is a key asset to the success of the Rhode Island softball team. Bedore is also the eighth player at URI to reach 200 career strikeouts and she will undoubtedly continue to surpass that number as the season goes on.
"I've worked hard to contain how many walks I give up and have definitely improved on that so far this year - my confidence overall is where it needs to be," Bedore said.
Confidence, as they say, is contagious. For softball, confidence of a pitcher is especially important.
"You have to focus pitch by pitch and really can't have any mentality other than to be confident and know that your pitches are going to work," Bedore said. "If the other team sees you losing confidence then they gain confidence and their mentality goes up. As a pitcher you have to stay strong and composed."
Bedore is not the only one on the team that understands the need for confidence. If a team is not confident in themselves then nobody will be confident in them. The best way to gain and show confidence is to let the games speak for themselves.
"As a team we really want to make it to A-10s, which is always in the back of our mind," Bedore said. "We want to continue to build upon our wins each year and need to really buckle down in conference play especially."
The Rams get to finally play on their own field this weekend with a double header against St. Bonaventure. Of course, every game holds importance for a team, but there's nothing like the feeling of defending your home.
"We are super excited for this weekend; I can't wait to wear our home uniforms, and it's exciting that our first home game is a conference game because it gives it that much more meaning for us in working towards our goal of making it to A-10s," Bedore said. "The Bonnies are a team that we have the chance to play really well against and we just need to put everything together, pitching, hitting, and fielding, to make the best outcome we can and stay together as a team."
Playing a team sport means counting on your team that everyone will do their job. Rhode Island softball has had time to build the trust needed within themselves and in their teammates.
"This weekend I just need to stay calm and relaxed through all the excitement," Bedore said. "All of us need to focus and stay together as a team and execute our individual jobs and that will benefit the team as a whole."
Rhode Island softball finally does not have to travel for a game and gets to stay in the comfort of their home, and they are prepared to take advantage of it.
In the Circle: Mental Training Has Helped Bedore Improve Overall Game
By Rachel Zarazan