After spending the first month of the season on the road, the Virginia softball team is enjoying not having to go anywhere -- at least for this weekend anyway.
The Cavaliers will open their home schedule with a three-game set against No. 9 Florida State at The Park, and after a month away from home, the Wahoos are more than happy to be back.
"We're all really excited," junior outfielder Heidi Velk said. "The road, it takes a toll on you. We're getting tired but being home, home-crowd advantage, that's nice to have."
It's a chance for UVa fans to get their first look at new head coach Blake Miller. Before coming to Charlottesville, Miller was the top assistant at Oregon, where he helped lead the Ducks to three Super Regionals and a College World Series appearance in 2012. Now, he's in charge of turning around the Cavalier program.
"Oh there's good progress," Miller said Friday at practice. "There's a lot of good progress happening, and they see it too."
"It's been great," senior Marcy Bowdren added. "We've learned a lot of new stuff, new techniques. Especially with hitting, which I think will definitely pay off."
All involved say the transition from the previous coaching staff has gone rather smoothly. Miller brings a fresh attitude and discipline the Cavaliers say they're enjoying.
"He's aggressive," Velk said. "I think if there's one word it's aggressive. He knows how to win and we're all really excited about that."
"We're moving along," Miller said. "Not as fast as I'd like to right now, but we're going. And the girls are working hard, and that's the main thing, that they keep working hard. We've got to battle."
One of Miller's main goals is getting the Hoos to be more aggressive at the plate, swinging early at good pitches without fear of making an out.
"It takes time to adjust to that because we haven't been use to it," Velk said. "But I think once we get it in our mindset that it doesn't matter if we mess up, then there's no stopping us."
"It's a learning process, where they don't mind striking out, don't mind if something bad happens," Miller explained. "We just have to go up there and rip it."
Virginia will put that new philosophy to the test this weekend when ninth-ranked Florida State comes to town.
"I think the better the team, the better you play," Bowdren explained. "They're a great team. They're fun to play, fun to watch. I'm looking forward to it."
"We have to play to their level this weekend and show people what we can do," Velk added. "They're obviously going to underestimate us so it's our time to shine."
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