The Loras softball team finished their season much like it began; they won three of their first four contests of the year and also won three of their final four. Despite the similar start and conclusion of the record, the team is not the same group of softball players that took the field back in March. These Duhawks have grown both in terms of team chemistry and skill.
With a 2-10 record in the Iowa Conference and 17-21 overall, the Duhawks did not make it to the IIAC Tournament. Still, the team had many successes throughout the year and ended on a high note, defeating Coe in their season finale 8-6. Despite not having the best win-loss percentage, Loras was a leader in the IIAC in some categories.
The Duhawks were second in team home runs with 23 in the season. This effort was led by senior Makaila Haase and first-year Megan Larson who tallied seven and six four-baggers, respectively. Loras topped the conference with 141 walks led in part by junior Dani Stromert who drew a team-best 31 walks. The Duhawks were also conference leaders in double plays, recording seven on the year.
Haase, Larson and Stromert were commended for the impacts they made on the team this season as they were each named All-Iowa Conference selections. The honor is the second of Stromert’s career but the first recognition for Haase and Larson.
In her final season donning the purple and gold, Haase led Loras on the mound with a team-best ERA of 4.51. She reached a career milestone midway through the season tallying her 100th hit. The Des Moines native will graduate having recorded 94 strikeouts, 117 hits and 201 total bases as a Duhawk.
As leadoff hitter, Stromert had the most at-bats (106) on the team. She led the team in walks with 31, a mark that ranks first in the IIAC and fourth nationally. Additionally, Stromert held the longest on-base streak on the team, reaching base for 23 consecutive games.
Larson rounded out Loras’ representation on the All-Conference team due to her impressive presence at the plate. Larson led the team in batting average (.430), hits (37), doubles (11) and total bases (68). Her .791 slugging percentage was also a team-best mark good enough for second in conference and 43rd nationally.
While these Duhawks had a big effect on the season, every member of the team made an impact. The team’s success was not the result of one player, it was the collective group that made things work. Head Coach Ashley Winter is proud of all her team accomplished this year.
“I thought our team had a strong finish to the season, putting together some really competitive ballgames where our team was playing 6-7 strong innings of softball. This was especially true our last conference games versus Coe,” said Winter.
With the season at its close, coach had some words to say to her team.
“I would like to say ‘thank you’ to our seniors for all their time and dedication to the Loras softball program. It has been a pleasure to know and coach you and I am looking forward to seeing all that you will accomplish in your life after Loras.”
She also had words for the returning players.
“Next season starts now.”
Winter is really not kidding when she says that preparations for next season are under way.
“This summer will be spent recruiting, preparing for our fall season, evaluating this past season and determining ways our team can improve for the 2017 season,” she said.
With all these plans for the future, it seems that an exciting spring awaits in 2017.