Youthful MC softball team ready to win, now: Quiet optimism surrounds record-setting squad as postseason looms
April 19, 2013
After the departure of six talented seniors a year ago, many in the Midwest Conference expected the Scots to experience a rebuilding year of sorts in 2013.
Opponents knew MC had the pieces to win, but felt they were a year away from contending. Quite the contrary. If winning seven of their first nine games didn’t capture the attention of critics, blasting a school-record 17 home runs in half the season certainly did.
One-third of the regular season remains, and the Scots stand at 14-10, 7-3 against the MWC and 2nd in the South Division. An April 7th victory over Illinois College made coach John Goddard the winningest skipper in Monmouth softball history with 95 victories.
This season’s lineup features a local flair – seven starting position players hail from Mercer, Rock Island or Warren counties. Aledoan Courtney Bennett returned with a vengeance after two years away from the program. Batting .333 with 14 RBI, the senior provides an offensive spark in left field.
Meanwhile freshman Emily Watkins has been electric at the plate, batting .431 with a team high five home runs. The youth movement continues on the mound, as sophomores Alyssa Edler, Skyler Johnson and Taylor Smith round out the top of the rotation. Despite the addition of new contributors, team cohesion emerges as the squad’s strength.
“We have team chemistry,” said third baseman Caitlin Lingle. “But we also have great pitching and the defense to back it up.”
“Our ability to mesh so well makes playing together so much easier and successful,” said first baseman Sommer Foster.
“It’s exciting to know that the girls on our team contributed together to break the home run record,” said left fielder Samantha Sons. “It is even more of an accomplishment to channel our chemistry, talent and hard work as a team to provide Coach Goddard with the opportunity to be the winningest coach.”
“This is a fun group to watch,” said Goddard. “They have bonded well.”
Through 24 games the Scots seem to be firing on all cylinders. MC owns a higher average (.284) than their opponents (.277), and a team ERA under 4 (3.81). Defensively the Scots have tallied six times more assists (184) than errors (34), and a .949 fielding percentage, all statistically better than their opponents.
In his sixth season at the helm, coach John Goddard has finished no lower than 2nd in the MWC’s South Division, posting above .500 records in conference play each year. But this season a young, determined team is focused on what lies ahead, in the form of a Saturday doubleheader at 1st place Lake Forest.
“This weekend at Lake Forest will be tough,” said Watkins. “We need to go up there and focus in order to be successful.”
“Lake Forest is always near the top,” said Goddard. “That tradition keeps them there.”
Monmouth’s postseason fate will be decided in the next two weeks, but the squad remains determined to improve.
“We need to start hitting,” said Goddard. “Pitching has been solid and we’ve been playing adequate defense, but hits have been hard to come by.”
“Our main focus is fixing the little errors and adjusting to different pitchers earlier in a game,” said Sons. “We all have the faith, confidence and talent necessary to win.”
What will the critics say now?