Duhawks determined to make a statement

photo by Loras College Athletics

Sunshine, snow, rain and wind; the Loras softball team has encountered it all so far this season. A lot has happened for the Duhawks since before spring break. The team has had to face several tough opponents in addition to extreme weather conditions in their first 22 games of the season. So far, the team has accumulated a 9-13 overall record.

The majority of the first half of the season for the Duhawks was spent at the PFX Spring Games in Clermont, FL. Loras faced a total of 10 competitors and secured victories against Allegheny, Fredonia and Greenville. The Duhawks’ trip to Florida gave the team a chance to experiment with various lineups and to grow as a unit. This year’s roster includes 15 first-years, so the 10-game series, in addition to a 22-hour bus ride to the sunshine state, gave the women a multitude of opportunities to connect and find their rhythm.

Upon their return from the spring break trip, the Duhawks faced some disappointing conditions. The team was set to face Elmhurst in the Chicago Bandits’ stadium in Rosemont, IL on April 2, but the game was canceled due to the field being covered in snow. After that, Loras’ Iowa-Conference opener against Wartburg was rescheduled due to rain. Despite the wild circumstances, the Duhawks have made the best of each situation and continued to improve on their game.

Right now, Loras posts a 0-4 record in the IIAC, but there are still five conference opponents to face. The team has the potential to secure more wins in the coming weeks as they rank in the top half of the conference in several statistical categories. Here is a look at where the softball team currently stands:

-The Duhawks rank fourth in both batting average (.321) and slugging percentage (.457).

-Loras posts a .410 on base percentage, a mark good enough for third in conference.

-With their 13 four-baggers, the team places second in number of home runs.

-The team’s .949 fielding percentage ranks fourth among IIAC competitors which includes 411 putouts and 221 assists.

The Duhawks have done an effective job of working as a team in their 22 games, therefore success cannot be attributed to a single player. However, with a handful of starting returners and a talented recruiting class, there are definitely players who have stood out thus far.

Last season, junior Dani Stromert was an All-Iowa Conference selection as well as an NCAA Division III Statistical Champion for Bases on Balls per Game. This year, the Cedar Rapids native has reclaimed her spot in the lineup as leadoff hitter, leading the team in both runs (18) and walks. At 19 walks so far this season, Stromert leads the team as well as the conference. The junior has not let last year’s performance change her mentality this season.

“Regardless of how I did last year, that doesn’t affect this year,” Stromert said. “I just want to make this year fun. We have a lot of potential to be amazing. We are figuring things out now and have the potential to get into the top half of the conference.”

Another key player for the Duhawks this season is first-year Lauren Fritz. Fritz has already made a name for herself this season, showing impressive performances and reaching several milestones. The Sterling, IL native has already tallied two homers, one of which was a grand slam that lifted the Duhawks to a victory over Iowa Wesleyan. Additionally, the catcher leads the team in fielding percentage, posting a 1.000 on 43 putouts and 10 assists while committing no errors. Despite these accomplishments, Fritz has remained modest. She said,

“I don’t try to do big things,” Fritz said. “I just try to do me and help out the team whichever way I can. Wherever coach puts me, I do the best I can.”

In addition to Stromert and Fritz, the Duhawks have a top-notch roster that has great potential for the remainder of the season. The Duhawks play their next home game on Thursday, April 14 against Millikin. The game is set for 3:30 p.m.

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