WKU looks to stay loose in midseason

Hasani Grayson

A 54-game regular season schedule can cause mental fatigue for a team, but WKU doesn’t want that to be the cause of a midseason slump.

The Lady Toppers’ recent performance (19-11,4-2 Sun Belt Conference) has players wanting to refocus on the success they had earlier in the season.

“The past couple of weeks, we were kind of pressing through games and playing to not lose,” senior designated player Laura Smith said.

Smith said that Head Coach Tyra Perry has tried to take focus away from the pressure of the game by telling her players to imagine a more relaxed environment.

“Coach keeps telling us to play like it’s a church picnic… and they just keep reminding us to have fun,” she said.

Junior outfielder Katrina Metoyer said that Perry telling her to think of that reminds her of the relaxed atmosphere of practice.

“I kind of envisioned when we have our scrimmages and our catcher, Karavin (Dew), is always talking a bunch of crap to everyone,” she said laughing.

Metoyer feels like the relaxed yet competitive feel of scrimmages they have in practice should be the same attitude players carry into a game.

Another thing that the coaches have done to keep players mentally and physically fresh is make changes to the practice schedule. Junior pitcher Kim Wagner said that breaking up different positions in the group benefits the players.

“They split us up today. Infield and outfield went at separate times,” she said on Tuesday. “Instead of being here for a long time, we get a little break and then come back.”                     

Perry, who said the team hasn’t been playing their game since they swept Florida Atlantic two weeks ago, said the weekend could provide some additional rest to the team since they don’t have any games scheduled.

Part of trying to get players to relax is telling them to believe in their ability to come up with key plays.  

“We’ve been talking a lot about being aggressive and confident,” she said. “When we are those two things we play well.”

After the Lady Toppers’ 4-2 loss to Kentucky on Wednesday, Perry said the team is gaining confidence but is still not quite where she wants them to be mentally.

“Earlier in the year, this team was just going at it blow for blow with the likes of Arizona and UAB and some really good teams that were in regional play last year,” she said. “Right now, we’re being a little bit too careful.”

With the team taking on Samford on Tuesday before heading into conference games against North Texas on March 31 and April 1, Wagner said that focusing on team success keeps her from getting complacent as the season goes on.

“Trying to stay consistent for throughout the entire season for your team — that’s my motivation,” she said. “I think that’s everyone’s motivation: Keep playing for each other and for that conference title at the end of the year.”