Softball team heads to Florida for weekend tournament

The St. Thomas softball team leaves Thursday for Panama City, Fla., to play in the Leadoff Classic Tournament.

The tournament is invitation-only based on performance in the past three years.

“They’re all going to be tough,” coach John Tschida said. “You know, you’re looking at the top 40 teams. They’re all national contenders.”

The Tommies have prepared for the tournament since Feb. 1.

“We have been preparing for this weekend just like we would prepare for any game or tournament,” senior Alison Wright said.

Sophomore Rachel Tondryk said the team prepares for the best.

“We always practice as if we were to play the top girls in the playoffs, like the USA team,” she said.

Tschida said the tournament will be a good experience for first-year players.

“I think we’ll be pretty athletic,” he said. “We’ll definitely get better as the tournament goes on. We’ll learn what we can and can’t do for the season. That’s why you always want to pick good teams to be put in situations to see what you’re good at and not good at.”

Nine seniors who made up most of the lineup graduated last year, Wright said.

Gustavus is the only other MIAC team in the tournament.

The tournament begins Friday and ends Sunday, and the Tommies will play two games each day.

Brian Woitte can be reached at