When Southwestern Illinois College softball coach Kathy Bernal has time to reflect on the 2013 season two words may quickly come to mind. What if?
What if the Blue Storm didn't squander leads late in many of their 27 losses? What if it would had been "normal" spring instead of one where miserable weather conditions caused a backlog of games, which resulted in fatigue late in the season.
And what if SWIC would have been able to put the three facets of the game -- good pitching, hitting and defense -- together in one game more often?
"We ended up 15-27, but I believe that we could just have easily been 27-15. We lost a lot of games late after we had the lead,'' Bernal said. "The weather hurt us too. We had a lot of games postponed by rain and snow, and when we did play those games we'd play doubleheaders four and five straight days. It wore down the pitching staff.''
SWIC ended its season last week, losing to Wabash Valley College in a best-of-three Region 24 playoff series.
Wabash Valley defeated SWIC 11-2 and 16-0.
"We were in the first game. I think we were down only 5-2 in the fourth inning, before they (Wabash Valley) broke it open,'' Bernal said. "The second game we made three errors in the first inning and we were never in the game.
"It was a disappointing finish to a disappointing season. After the fall we were so looking forward to the season, because we looked so promising.
"Then we lost four players at the semester -- including three starters -- and we were never able to put a real good streak together for any length of time.''
The Blue Storm was also young and very inconsistent for much of the season.
On days when the pitching was good, the Blue Storm couldn't hit. On others when they hit, either the pitching or defense struggled.
"It was just one of those years,'' Bernal said. "Losing the four players after the fall was huge because three of them were starters and so we were awfully young in some areas.
"The good thing is that we've got a lot of girls coming back next year and we have a good (freshman) recruiting class coming in.''