Dayton Flyers softball coach Cara LaPlaca looks at the fall season as an extended training camp. The team’s newcomers — there are six freshman this year — get exposed to the system and style of play and learn to mesh with the returning players. The goal, LaPlaca said, is to mold them into one unit.
The highlight of Dayton’s fall season comes at 3 p.m. Sunday. Dayton will host the USSSA Pride, a member of the National Pro Fastpitch League. Admission to the game is free.
“They’re the best pro team in the pro league, so they’ve won numerous regular-season championships and have advanced to their championship series multiple times over the last couple years,” LaPlaca said. “This is the premier softball organization. For us to be able to match our team against them, it’s definitely a great challenge but one they’re excited about.”
The Pride, who come from Kissimmee, Fla., are on their fall tour. They play Ohio State on Saturday and play Notre Dame, Michigan and Toledo next week. Their roster features players from some of the best programs in the nation: Michigan, UCLA, Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Kentucky, etc.
Dayton has never had a player make a team in the pro league, LaPlaca said. She won’t make any judgments about her team based on this game.
“We’re looking at it as an exhibition of softball,” LaPlaca said. “We really just want to put on the best game we can possibly put on for the spectators and the young girls that are going to be in attendance that hopefully have a future in our game as well.”
Dayton is also playing two games Saturday at the Ohio Collegiate Charity Classic at Ohio State’s Beekman Park. The Flyers play Toledo at 10:30 a.m. and Miami at 12:45 p.m. Tickets cost $5, and proceeds benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.
Dayton finished 27-21-1 last season. It was 39-14 in 2015. That gives it the first back-to-back winning seasons in school history.
“We just have a solid group of returning players,” LaPlaca said, “and an ongoing culture that’s really healthy and competitive. It’s just really fun to be a part of.”
Volleyball: Junior Amber Erhahon was named Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week. She averaged 3.55 kills and 1.00 block per set. Freshman Jamie Peterson was named rookie of the week.
The Flyers (13-1) suffered their first loss of the season Friday, 3-0 to Loyola Marymount at the Frericks Center. The Flyers start A-10 play at 7 p.m. Friday against George Washington at home.
Women’s soccer: Sophomore Kaelyn Johns was named A-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week. She had seven saves in a 1-1 double overtime tie against Wright State on Friday.
Freshman Madeleine Morrissey was named rookie of the week. She had UD’s only goal in the game against Wright State. The Flyers (2-5-1) return to action Sept. 29 against St. Louis at home.