That's all coach Amy Suiter and the Western Washington University softball team asks of its players, but it's less a choice than it is a requirement.
Jenna DeRosier, a senior pitcher and team captain for the Vikings, has been with Suiter since the beginning. She's been at the heart of the culture change Suiter has instilled - the team-over-self mentality - and both have no room for those who don't wholeheartedly subscribe to that way of life.
"WWU softball is a unit. It's extremely cohesive. It's just this thing we've developed that if someone comes in and is not willing to buy in, then it's shape up or ship out. We want people that want to be here," DeRosier said. "It's just important for all of us to be on the same page, and as teammates trusting each other, trusting our coaches, it's huge."
The Vikings take the field for the first time in the 2014 season against Brigham Young University-Hawaii on Saturday, Feb. 1, in Laie, Hawaii. And while WWU is coming off a 23-23 2013 season, the talent and depth is unlike that of years past, Suiter said.
That's especially true amongst the pitchers.
"We have five pitchers this year, so we have a strong rotation - a strong staff, and they've all done a great job working together," Suiter said. "Right-handed pitchers; left-handed pitchers; power pitchers; spin pitchers - it'll be a great combo."
DeRosier returns as the most accomplished and experienced of the staff, having compiled 300 innings pitched, 91 strikeouts and 17 wins over her first three years. Sophomores Alexie Levin and Jordan Walley are also expect to soften DeRosier's load, as well as two freshmen - Shayna Adelstein and Aspen Ison.
"It's fun to watch everyone complement each other and knowing I'm not going to have to pitch five games in a row when we do tournament play," DeRosier said. "It's a relief."
As a staff last year, DeRosier, Levin and Walley helped anchor a group that posted a team ERA of 3.62, placing them fourth amongst the seven-team field in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. This year the goals are much loftier, but given what DeRosier has seen of not only herself, but the other pitchers, as well, she thinks a 2.00 ERA and a WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) of 1.20 is within reason.
Or at very least a goal worth striving for.
"We want to be better," DeRosier said.
It's all for naught unless the offense is scoring runs, and that again brings Suiter back to the team-first mentality.
Levin and Walley - both of which were first-team GNAC all-stars as freshman - provided much of the punch on offense last year. Levin's .333 average was second on the team to the graduated Kristen Allen, and she also led the club with 26 RBI and three triples. Walley's .314 batting average ranked third on the team while her six home runs and .539 slugging percentage paced the Vikings.
Senior team captain Kaleigh Keating will likely move to one of the top two positions in the batting order given her team-leading 21 steals out of 22 attempts last year, providing Levin and Walley someone who can continually get in scoring position.
The dynamic, as Suiter has continually sought to tell her players, is that they hit as a group, not as individuals.
"(It's about) doing what is best for the team at all times instead of what's best for your batting average," Suiter said. "It's a big deal for me. You can have the best athletes in the world, but if they don't get on the same page you don't have much of a team."
Seniors Meghan Carrillo and Haylee Baker will also play significant roles this year in the lineup for Suiter, but this year's success boils down to one simple truth: "I'll be happy if everyone is talking about what Western Washington softball did, and not individuals."
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates. Visit http://www.bellinghamherald.com/sports-blog/index.html for blog posts on the latest county sports news.
WWU 2013-14 SOFTBALL ROSTER
No. Name Pos. Yr.
1 Lynsey Amundson C/1B Fr.
2 Lauren Bennett OF/P So.
3 Mackenzie Hughes OF Fr.
4 Cheyenne Best 3B Jr.
5 Taylor Clark C/OF So.
6 Shayna Adelstein P Fr.
7 Emma Blauser 2B/P So.
8 Kali Patterson 2B Fr.
10 Autumn Isaacson OF Jr.
11 Kaleigh Keating OF Sr.
12 Jordan Walley P/DH So.
14 Arianna Barrio OF So.
15 Allie Crowe OF Jr.
17 Meghan Carrillo OF Sr.
18 Haylee Baker SS Sr.
19 Jenna DeRosier P Sr.
22 Kiki Harper OF Fr.
23 Aspen Ison P Fr.
32 Alexie Levin P/OF So.
44 Amanda Flores 1B/DH Sr.
WWU 2013-14 SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Time
Feb. 1 at BYU-Hawaii 1 p.m./3 p.m.
Feb. 2 at Hawaii Hilo 12 p.m./2 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Hawaii-Pacific 1 p.m./3 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Chaminade 4:30 p.m./6:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 Cal State Dominguez Hills 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 7 Black Hills State 2 p.m.
Feb. 8 Colorado School of Mines 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 8 Adams State 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 Colorado State-Pueblo 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 22 Northwest University (WA) 12 p.m./2 p.m.
March 2 British Columbia 12 p.m./2 p.m.
March 7 Simon Fraser 1 p.m./3 p.m.
March 9 at Central Washington 12 p.m./2 p.m.
March 15 Saint Martin's 1 p.m./3 p.m.
March 16 Western Oregon 12 p.m./2 p.m.
March 22 at Montana State-Billings 1 p.m./3 p.m.
March 23 at Montana State-Billings 12 p.m./2 p.m.
March 28 Central Washington 1 p.m./3 p.m.
March 30 at Simon Fraser 1 p.m./ 3 p.m.
April 3 Sonoma State TBD
April 4 Azusa Pacific 10 a.m.
April 4 at Cal State Stanislaus 1:15 p.m.
April 4 Cal State Dominguez Hills 8 p.m.
April 5 Chico State 3:45 p.m.
April 5 Cal State East Bay 11:15 p.m.
April 6 Tournament of Champions TBD
April 18 Northwest Nazarene 1 p.m./3 p.m.
April 19 Northwest Nazarene 1 p.m./3 p.m.
April 26 at Western Oregon 1 p.m./3 p.m.
April 27 at Saint Martin's 1 p.m./3 p.m.