Q&A with Alison Pittman
Second-year Alison Pittman and the Virginia softball team begin the 2009 season this weekend at the Pirate Invitational in Greenville, N.C. The three-team round robin event will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with the Cavaliers facing off against Middle Tennessee, followed by a 1 p.m. contest vs. the host Pirates. On Sunday, UVa will play the Blue Raiders at 10 a.m. and ECU at 2 p.m. Pittman is one of 12 letterwinners returning from the 2008 squad. She recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to chat about the team chemistry this season, the best part about being a slapper, how she dominates in Quiddler and her favorite spot on Grounds.
Question: How exciting is it to be starting the season?
Pittman: Finally! Everybody is excited in general because it’s a whole new attitude. We are here to rebuild a program and we want to start off well from the beginning. We are ready to get out there and play.
Question: How would you describe the team chemistry this year?
Pittman: I think our team chemistry is much better and that is going to be the difference this season. We can talk to each other and ask questions more. It is a happy atmosphere, not a stressful one.
Question: Already having a year under your belt, what has been the biggest advantage for you this season in comparison to where you were at this time last year?
Pittman: Definitely this year has been much easier, just because you are not confused about everything from school to softball and what you thought you already knew. This year I have expectations. In a way with two new coaches, we didn’t know how much they would change things. But it turned out to be the best thing for our team.
Question: What kind of impact have Coach Hirai and Coach Freitager had on the team?
Pittman: I think Coach Geoff has changed the majority of what we were doing at the plate and has really improved our hitting overall. We hit decently last year but the expectations are just so much higher. You can see it in practice. He has such a positive attitude that comes back on us. Coach Heidi is awesome in general. She is easy to work with but she teaches you specifics at the same time.
Question: What is the best part about being a slapper? What is the worst?
Pittman: The best part is knowing that if the fielder makes one little mistake, you are probably going to be safe because you have such an advantage. Another good thing is that a lot of pitchers hate to pitch to you. The worst part about it is mastering every little specific thing, like hitting the 5-6 hole exactly or getting the bunt down the first base line and not down third, or vice versa.
Question: What is your favorite position to play?
Pittman: Probably short stop. That is what I grew up playing and I think every little kid wants to be in the middle of the action. So if nothing mattered, short stop, but for our team’s sake, I am probably better off catching.
Question: What do you think of the new field renovations?
Pittman: The field is awesome and it is just more incentive for us to go out and prove that we are a good team. The outfield is really nice and the infield is much improved from last year.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Pittman: There is this really fun card game called Quiddler. It is sort of like scrabble in a card version. Javy (Cynthia Javaras), (Allee) Rife and I, and our other roommate Megan, we play it all the time. It usually comes down to me or Rife but Javy just won her first game the other day in overtime.
Question: What are you majoring in?
Pittman: I declared in early childhood special education, with a minor in psychology. My middle brother has a learning disability so I was around it growing up. It impacted me personally. I wanted to help diagnose autism and the different disabilities.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa thus far?
Pittman: Probably one I took last semester called early childhood development. That really confirmed that I wanted to work with kids so it’s my favorite.
Question: What is your favorite spot on Grounds?
Pittman: I would have to say the amphitheatre. I think it’s cool plus I took Latin in high school so I have always been into Greek architecture. Having it in the middle of campus is kind of bizarre but it is a cool place.