Despite a challenging start to the season against 13th-ranked West Texas A&M, Augustana softball now stands as a strong contender in the Division-2 softball circuit.
Starting out the season with four losses in the West Texas A&M Invitational in February, the women’s softball team has redeemed itself to high glory with an overall record of 18-6.
“West Texas A&M is a really good, a top notch program,” said Coach Gretta Melsted. “I wanted to start with them just as a real challenge to our team.”
Despite the losses, Melsted was impressed with the team’s stamina against a team like A&M.
The team made a comeback just three weeks later at the Kelly LAAS Memorial Invite in St. Cloud and continued its winning streak into spring break.
“It was a long trip, but collectively as a team, we did a great job,” said Ashley Mickschl, freshman pitcher and the NSIC’s player of week for Mar. 19.
Continuing through the month of March and on into spring break, the team raised its winning stats from four losses to only two over the past three weeks.
“We made a statement this week going 11-2, and I think, collectively, that we are all excited to get after [the season],” said junior pitcher and infielder Margaret Dunnett.
Getting after it is exactly what the team plans to do. Even after their hard work over spring break, the Vikings kicked back into training.
Individually, team members have their own method for improving.
“Individually, I’m working on getting more reps whenever I can during the week and playing the role I have on the team to the best of my ability,” Dunnett said.
While the team works to improve, it also stands out highly for its pitching staff.
Sophomore Olivia Wolters highest strike out last year was 10 against Washburn. Senior pitcher Lexy Pederson had 13 against Minnesota Crookston.
“Our pitching is really strong this year,” said Melsted. “We have the deepest pitching staff by far in our conference and probably one of the stronger and deeper pitching staffs in the country.”
The pitching staff consists of Pederson, junior pitcher/infielder Maggie Dunnett, Wolters, freshman pitcher/infielder Amber Elliott and Mickschl.
The season is not over though, the team has high hopes as warming weather approves in the coming months.
The first home game is Mar. 23 at Bowden Field against USF.
As for the rest of the season, the team’s goals go up from here with the hopes of a regional tournament in sight.“The sky’s the limit for this team,” said Melsted. “This is a team that is going to make a splash, no questions asked.”
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