Duhawks face tough conference matchups
Last week the softball team experienced a series of sweeps, but unfortunately not all of them went in their favor. The team started on a high note taking both games against the visiting Big Blue from Millikin on Thursday. The double-header was offensively driven as the team recorded a total of three home runs between the two games.
In game one against Millikin, sophomore Miranda Chapman smashed the first long ball over the center field fence, scoring sophomore Bria Lenten in the process to take a 2-0 lead. The teams continued to exchange runs over the next few innings, but the Duhawks stayed on top to secure a 5-3 victory.
The Duhawks carried this offensive momentum into game two as they scored four runs on the bottom of the first. First-year Megan Larson started things off with her fourth four-bagger of the season. Junior Dani Stromert joined in with the long ball, smashing a double deep into the outfield.
Junior Cate Paulsen took her turn in the sixth inning, sending the first pitch she saw over the fence and onto West 16th Street. Loras took game two, 5-3.
The Duhawks returned to the diamond on Saturday for conference action against Simpson. Unfortunately, the Storm struck early in both games forcing the Duhawks to play catch-up. The deficit proved to be too much in game one as Simpson topped Loras 11-3.
The story was looking to be the same in game two as the Storm had an 8-4 lead after six innings. The Duhawks rallied in the seventh for an impressive comeback, but their efforts fell short as they dropped game two, 8-7.
At the start of this week the Duhawks had a 12-16 record, 0-6 in the IIAC. There are still a few double-headers left in the season, and with the versatility of this team anything can happen. There is a deep well of talent on the softball roster, evidenced by the fact that positions are constantly changing.
For example, head coach Ashley Winter has rotated the outfield quite consistently in the Duhawks’ past few games. Sometimes freshman Hannah Towns is in left field, but sometimes Stromert is. We have also seen both Chapman and junior Jessica Newton play third base. Additionally, both Larson and senior Ashlee Hoffman have made appearances at first base. The one position that has stayed consistent the entire season, however, is shortstop.
Sophomore Bria Lenten owns her role as shortstop for the Duhawks. The Cedar Rapids, IA native leads the team in assists with 57, a mark also good enough for fifth in conference. Combined with her 49 putouts this season, the sophomore is posting a .938 fielding percentage.
“It feels very good to know that my coaches and teammates believe in me and trust me enough to keep me at shortstop on a consistent basis. Along with that comes responsibilities I have to the team, and knowing that helps me perform consistently,” Lenten said.
Having a roster of supportive teammates has been crucial for the Duhawks this season. Each member of the team brings a new personality, but they have found a way to mesh well together.
“The team dynamic this season is unique from other years because of the numbers we have. We have had people stepping up in different roles and situations they have been presented with, which shows the depth and talent our team possesses as well. We are also pretty goofy people, which keeps things fun,” said Lenten.
As stated, Loras has a few double-headers left. The team has what it takes to be a tough competitor. That fact coupled with Lenten’s advice for the remainder of the season should power the team through the end.
“We need to play Duhawk softball and have some fun. A crucial aspect will be maximizing the opportunities given to us on the offensive and defensive end, while minimizing our opponents’. The biggest thing though, in my opinion, will be playing as a team and bringing a lot of heart and passion to the field. Go hard or go home.”