The Augustana softball team is back and ready for regular season action. After going 5-3 in Texas over interim break, the Vikings will spend spring break in Florida playing 12 games.
After honing specific skills in the fall, senior catcher Maggie Kadrlik said the team is “really excited to play. We weren’t satisfied in Houston so we’re excited to go to Florida.”
Kadrlik said the team’s big theme this year is “owning the field,” which means gaining and maintaining confidence with team play.
Head coach Gretta Melsted said she’s looking forward to seeing how the women grow over the next year. She said she is focusing on small developments because all the extra hitting and pitching the team members do on their own time is what propels the team to the next level.
“My favorite part of coaching is watching young women grow and develop over four years and watch them come in as freshmen that are scared to leave home and tentative about being in this new environment and watch them become independent, empowered young women,” Melsted said.
Fifth-year senior pitcher Maggie Dunnett said that the team has a strong pitching staff this year.
“We’re fast, which has not really historically been the case. We’re the steal lots of bases, quick, very athletic team,” Melsted said. “We’re gonna hit our fair share of home runs.”
Dunnett said that a weakness could be making the switch from playing on turf in pre-season to dirt.
“I think that’s a little scary,” she said.
Melsted said the team also needs to work on consistency and not growing complacent.
“If we have a big inning, we need to not take a breather; we need to keep attacking and constantly trying to finish games,” Melstad said.
Dunnett and Kadrlik agreed that team chemistry is high.
“We’re all very close-knit which makes competing at a high level easier,” said Dunnett.
However, Kadrlik said, “In a way, our team chemistry [can be a weakness], because people want more relationships than they want success for the team. Just having that balance of understanding when somebody will get onto you about something it’s because they want to win, too, not because they don’t like you as a person.”
Kadrlik said the team needs to focus on maturity in that respect.
The team also gets live pitches from its pitching staff in practice.
“Coach does a really good job of giving us a lot of live at-bats; I think that’s really good for our program,” Dunnett said. “You can take machine balls all day, but it’s not the same as seeing live pitches.”
Both the team cohesion and live at-bats should make the team’s goal of making it to the national tournament and 54 wins this year pretty attainable. Last year the team went 42-15. This year, Melsted said the team members decided on their own to beat the 2012 team’s record of 53 wins.
“I think we will do extremely well,” Melsted said. “We might be a little rusty when we first start but they will quickly get back on track and they will do well.”