by SYDNEY MOHR
From The Winonan, WSU’s student newspaper
The Winona State University women’s softball team spent their weekend at their first tournament of the season in Rosemount, Ill., at the Lewis Dome Invitational. Out of the five games in which the Warriors played, they won four and lost one, setting them in a good position for the start of the season. Their current game record outside tournament play is 3-1, meaning the Warriors are off to a strong start with their league play.
“The girls are off to a great start and I’m excited to see where they go the rest of the season,” coach Greg Jones said. “These girls have already proved their strength on the field, and it’ll only get better as the season progresses.”
Coach Jones was surprised by the strength of the team right at the start of the season, especially with the number of younger girls on the team.
“We only have five seniors and two juniors. With a roster of 22 girls, that’s a small amount. But the first and second years have really been working hard and proving their worth to the team so far,” Jones said.
Throughout the tournament, the Warriors played Grand Valley State University from Allendale, Mich.; Wayne State University from Detroit, Mich.; William Jewell College from Liberty, Mo.; Missouri University of Science and Technology from Rolla, Mo.; and University of Wisconsin-Parkside from Parkside, Wis. They lost to Grand Valley State University in their 4-1 tournament victory.
In the first game of the tournament, junior Lani Van Zyl managed to bat the only hit of the entire game in the seventh inning. The Warriors did not score any runs and ended their first game of the tournament 0-7 against Grand Valley on Friday, February 23, at 1:30 p.m. Grand Valley plated three runs in the first inning, two in the second, and two in the fourth against the senior pitcher McKenna Larsen.
Lani Van Zyl said she was excited to return to the field after having surgery on the cartilage in her shoulder back in November.
“I’ve been waiting for so long to be back on the field,” Van Zyl said. “I had to go through physical therapy and a lot of training to get back on the field, but I couldn’t be happier to be back.”
The Warriors went on to win their next game with an ironic score of 7-0 against Wayne State, an exact flip of their game the night before. The game at 6 p.m. that night fared much better for the Warriors. Senior McKenna Larsen got back into stride and went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a pair of run-batted in for her at bats. Her RBI double in the second inning and her run-scoring single in the fifth managed to put her in the spot for most runs helped in the game.
Van Zyl and senior Samantha McLean each brought RBI singles in the second game, and first-year Rylee Stout hit her second home run of the season in the fifth inning, bringing in two other girls off the bases and bringing the score up to 7-0.
Sophomore Jordyn Kleman pitched the second game, completing only the second game she has pitched so far this season with only six hits from Wayne State and striking out two batters.
The Warriors went on to play against William Jewell College on Saturday, February 24, at 3:30 p.m., winning the game 13-1. Larsen stepped in to pitch again, and the team only let one run advance in the fifth inning. The Warriors managed four runs in the first and second innings, and five runs in the fourth inning against William Jewel’s pitcher.
Their last game on Saturday took place at 8 p.m. against Missouri S&T, resulting in an 8-2 win for the Warriors. The last game of the tournament, played on Sunday, February 25, was against University of Wisconsin-Parkside and resulted in a 10-2 win for the Warriors.
The women’s softball team will be playing 10 games over spring break (March 3-11) down in Clermont, Fla. After that, they will be competing in the Missouri Western Hy-Vee Classic in St. Joseph, Mo., the weekend of March 16 through March 18.