Softball Preparation: The softball team prepares for the upcoming season after a trip to the domes and Florida
By Alejandro Merlan
With Head coach Amy Gradecki returning for her sixth season, the Carroll University softball team opened the season at The Dome in Marquette, Michigan on February 28 and March 1.
The team has four returning starters and eight returning players total, including sophomore All-MWC Performer Infielder Kelly Strasser. In the preseason poll Carroll University was picked to finish second, tied with Lawrence University with 10 points. St. Norbert’s was picked to finish first with 16.“The game we are looking forward to the most is against St. Norbert’s. They kept us out of the MWC tournament last year” said sophomore Hannah Miller.
The Pioneers recently participated in a tournament hosted by Finlandia University. The team went 2-2, splitting doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. On opening day, the Pioneers beat Marian University 2-0 but lost to Finlandia 7-3. The next day began with a 7-0 loss against Simpson College, but they ended the tournament with a 7-3 victory over Lakeland College.
During spring break, the pioneers traveled to Winter Haven Florida for the Rebel Spring games. The Pioneers took on teams from all over the country. “The trip was awesome. It was successful, everyone played well, so our outlook is pretty good.” said sophomore Laura-Lynn Schenk.
On the first day, the team split games, beating Mitchell College 13-2 in five innings but losing to Westminster College 2-5. On the second day they once again split games, overtaking Defiance College 3-0 but falling to College 0-8.
“One of the things we want to improve is not losing energy for doubleheaders,” said Schenk. ”We would go all out for the first game but not have any energy for the second.”
The Softball Pioneers would improve in that regard on the third day of their competition, beating both Hiram College 5-3 and College of Mount St. Joseph 6-5. On day four, they beat Mitchell College but fell in the rematch against Mount St. Joseph 1-4. The Pioneers ended the tournament on a high note, beating Catholic University 9-8 and Albion College 9-0.“We grew a lot on and off the field. The chemistry is there,” says Miller. “It was nice to play in a real field.”
The bonding and chemistry forged between players during spring break will be key as the MWC crossover looms near. The MWC crossover is a weekend when the entire northern division and southern division each come together to play against one another. This year the northern division (Carroll University’s division) will travel to Janesville, Wisconsin on April 10 through the 12. The Pioneers will play in doubleheaders each day.
“Our goal is to win conference.” Says Schenk. “I want us to beat out the base record.” Hannah Miller’s goal was slightly more personal: “I want to help pitch the team’s way to conference.” The Softball team will get their chance when the Pioneers take on their first MWC opponent against Ripon College on Thursday, April 2 on Kilgour field at 3 pm.