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Softball ready for season after Florida games

March 30, 2012

Kyla Quigley/The Courier - Sophomore Jessica Bybee plays catcher during practice. The softball team will face North Central College in a double header tomorrow, March 31.

They say that it is always calm before the storm, and in the case of the Monmouth College Fighting Scots softball team, they plan on making it rain in this year’s Midwest Conference. To prepare for the upcoming season, the team traveled to Florida for a spring break filled with diamond action, bringing back three wins and five losses in order to better prepare for regular season match ups.

Late inning heroics, including a one run triple by Brooke Twohill, could not save the Scots from losing their season opener to Fairleigh Dickenson-Florham 7-6 in an extra inning showdown. The Scots rebounded later that day, blanking SUNY Geneseo 5-0, giving freshman pitcher Alyssa Edler her first collegiate win from the mound. However, the following day proved woeful for the Scots, who dropped games to Messiah College and Rhode Island College, 11-1 and 10-1, respectively. Jalynne Young recorded her first win of the season in a 8-6 win over Bethany on March 14 with the help of a powerful Scots offensive that belted out 12 hits, including a two-run, two-out double by Edler early on. Wesleyan Connecticut defeated the Scots 6-5 later that day after the Scots gave up an unearned run in the seventh. Errors continued to haunt the Scots, who dropped a 2-1 decision to nationally ranked Ithaca College on March 15. Freshman Skyler Johnson struck out eight to pick up her first varsity win in a 2-0 victory over National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, Grace College, to cap the Fighting Scots’ trip to Florida.

Although they came back 3-5, Head Coach John Goddard stated that the team’s record is not an indicator of the caliber that his roster possesses.

“We could have easily been 6-2,” said Goddard. “We lost three one run games, and played strong opponents. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality now that we’re back in the North.”

Sophomore Caitlin Lingle, who led the team with a batting average of .385 and 7 RBIs on the Florida trip agreed, saying, “Coach stepped us up in class this year while we were in Florida. We played a lot of ranked teams, including an NAIA team that we beat. I think that will help us out during the regular season, because we started out with tough competition.”

Other key contributors offensively included veterans Twohill and Lauren Bergstresser, who each scored five runs during the week, as well as several underclassmen who saw playing time.

“Susie Hicks really stepped up for us in right field and Courtney Johnson hit quite well,” Goddard said. “Our entire pitching staff did an excellent job.”

The pitching staff, which is composed of mostly freshman, got wins from Edler (1.87 ERA), Young and Johnson, who led the rotation with 19 total strikeouts and a team low ERA of 1.29.

“I had to get my mindset different,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot different playing against all these girls, because they want to be here. In high school it was more laid back.”

Overall, Goddard has a number of players, and will use this experience to plan for the remainder of the season.

“It was very successful,” he said. “We answered all the questions, and we the coaches, know where to play the players and are looking forward to the start of the regular season.”

Lingle said she and her team know what they will need to work on in order to be successful.

“Our strong points are that we have really good team chemistry, and even building off of that from last year,” she said. “A lot of the freshmen have really stepped up. Our weak point was that we didn’t string together the hits all in one. We were just hitting sporadically here and there and couldn’t  get them all together. We made a few errors in the field, but that will get better as the year goes on.”

After the trip, the Fighting Scots came back to edge Cornell College in both games of a Saturday double header, 3-2 and 4-2, respectively. Twohill led the Scots offensive attack, going 2-3 at the plate and scoring in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie on freshman Alyssa Edler’s double. Taylor Smith notched the win, while returning Midwest Conference Pitcher of the Year Megan Butler recorded her first save of the season. Bergstresser homered for the Scots in the second matchup, lifting the Scots to a two run lead. That was all Edler needed for the win, who finished the game with three strikeouts.

The Scots hit the road Sunday, taking on Eureka College in an afternoon twin bill, where they picked up two victories. Game one featured an explosive offense for the Scots, who collected nine hits in only five innings, including a stellar performance by Lingle, who finished the game with 3 RBIs and two hits. Bergstresser, shortstop Emily Woods, and senior left fielder Brittany Forney had with two hits each, giving freshman hurler Hannah Burger her first varsity win. The Fighting Scots completed the sweep, beating the Red Devils for the last game of the weekend, coming from behind for a 7-3 win. The fifth inning was the decision maker for the Scots, who scored three runs on four hits, including singles by Edler, Twohill, sophomore Kelsey Barnes and freshman first basemen Sommer Foster. Starter Taylor Smith got her second win, scattering eight hits and four strikeouts over four innings, while Megan Butler closed for her second save.

While the Scots went undefeated over the weekend, Twohill noted that there are still some things that could be improved.

“We came out on top, but we didn’t play to our fullest ability,” she said. “It was nice getting some wins to get our season going, but we just have to stay on top of our game and stay up the whole time. Our defense was good, but our offense was better. It feels great to be 4-0. We are a close-knit team and I hope we continue to improve and work together as a team to get some more wins this week and weekend. We played some tough teams in Florida, and I think it helped us to not take any team lightly.”

Off of five straight wins, the Scots are poised to be a force to reckon with and primed to bring havoc to the Midwest Conference.

“We have to continue to work on hitting and defense,” said Goddard, “and those two will solidify that we’re going to be the team to beat.”

Elissa Sexton
Contributing Writer

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