Returning numbers were lower this year than most, but those involved have been 100% committed throughout the fall semester, which has made a huge difference for this Scorch team. Our recruitment numbers were also lower than past years, due to a combination of factors, but we quickly found that those new players who showed up to our first practices meant business. Sure, we've lost a few throughout the past couple of months, but the retention rate so far has been much higher than those years when we have hoards of freshmen showing up on the first day of practice. And let me just say, our rookies are amazing!
Our first tournament this fall was PleASUre Fest, held on the ASU campus, where we had a chance to play in unseasonably warm weather against many of our sectional rivals, as well as a few teams that we historically haven't played very often. Decked out in spray painted t-shirts and tutus, our team was brimming over with excitement about finally getting to show our stuff against other teams. We opened the tournament with a first-round bye, and then faced off against ASU Caliente. As could be expected in our first game ever together as a team, we took a little bit of time to get used to playing together and adjusting to the pressure of a real game, and Caliente managed to best us 6-9. Throughout the rest of the day Scorch slowly but surely learned from its mistakes and improved, but wound up with two more losses-- to NAU's Jines in the Pines (7-13) and Occidental's WAC (7-10).
After a night of team dinner and bonding, Scorch came out on Sunday morning fired up and ready to go. We came out strong against Utah's Uinta Carpet, and pulled off our first win of the season! In a hard-fought game on both sides, Scorch managed to pull ahead 10-8, ending up 3rd in our pool. Bracket play came next, which set Scorch up to play Utah again in the quarter/semi-finals. Uinta decided that they wanted to forfeit the game and head home early, so our two teams played a 45-minute fun game, after which Utah headed home and Scorch went on to the third-place game against Occidental, who had just lost to NAU. Scorch came out strong, played well together, and bested Occidental 14-9 to end up in third place! The whole weekend was a learning experience for this team, and the improvement throughout the weekend was remarkable. Everyone came back brimming over with Scorchie Love and an obsession with the game, and none of us could wait to get back out on the fields two weekends later in San Diego.