The SVSU softball team continued its hot start this season, going 5-1 during its annual spring trip.
SVSU’s head coach, Todd Buckingham, was excited to see his team perform well.
“We have a very strong team top to bottom,” Buckingham said. “We are not perfect by any means, but we have each other’s back in every game.”
The ladies first faced off against the Prairie Stars of the University of Illinois-Springfield. They started on Friday, March 3, with a double header, taking both games.
In the first game, Evy Lobdell got the team going with a two RBI hit in the first inning, followed up by a Madison Burgess hit, knocking in Becky Corbett. Julia Miller, Lauren Bachert and Meredith Rousse capped off an impressive offensive performance, each hitting a home run en route to an 11-5 win.
The next game followed suit, despite the Cardinals falling behind 6-0 in the bottom of the first. Miller hit another home run along with teammate Courtney Reeves, who hit a three-run shot. The Cardinals ended up scoring 15 unanswered runs, leading to a 15-6 final score and a double-header sweep.
On Saturday, the Cardinals finished up their four-game series with UI-Springfield with a 1-0 win in the first game.
The only run came in the top of the first inning with Rousse again homering to give Cardinal pitcher Sam Willman the only run support she would need, as she allowed only two Prairie Star hits in the shutout performance.
The Cardinals had the opportunity to sweep the four-game set, but they fell 8-7 in a 12-inning thriller in the series finale.
The game started out with Lobdell knocking in two of her teammates, landing herself with a double. That lead would not last, though, as the Prairie Stars put six runs on the board in the fourth inning. The top of the sixth led to yet another lead change, with the Cardinals taking a 7-6 lead. Reeves came in clutch with a grand slam, giving them the one-up. In the seventh, UI-Springfield tied the game up with an unearned run, sending the game into extra innings. The game continued until the Prairie Starts scored a run in the 12th and came out on top 8-7.
Buckingham was disappointed with the final loss, but he had a positive view on the series as a whole.
“It’s very hard to beat a quality team four times like that,” he said. “Errors cost us the fourth game due to fatigue. This along with a lack of pouncing on big moments was a major factor.”
He was, however, proud of his team’s quality outings against a tough opponent.
Rousse, one of the team’s top sluggers, agreed that fatigue had begun to set in for both teams heading into the final game of the weekend.
“I think both teams weren’t performing when they needed to, it was a long day,” she said. “The long game was coupled with cold weather as well, making the game even more tough to pull out.”
SVSU continued its winning ways when it traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to face off against Bellarmine University the following Monday, March 6.
The first game of the double header began with Aubree Mouthaan getting an RBI hit, giving SVSU a 1-0 lead. With Willman heading the circle, the ladies came out on top with a 5-1 win. Runs from Mouthaan, Reeves and Breanna Dinsmoore gave the Cardinals the decisive edge at the plate.
The second game of the double-header was no different, with the Cardinals dominating at the plate yet again. Reeves sent another ball over the fence, giving her a GLIAC-leading fifth home run. Burgess and Rousse also came through with hits and RBIs for the ladies. Annie Hansen picked up the win on the mound, her fourth of the season, while Emily Osteen and Hannah Atwell worked to keep the Knights of Bellarmine scoreless for the latter part of the game, leading to a 7-3 victory.
Buckingham was impressed with his team’s performance.
“The past week was a good week for us,” he said. “I feel the real key is simply that we are starting to really gel as a team.”
He also added that the lack of outdoor time could be a real bummer for the season, due to the long winters.
With warmer weather coming, the issue should be reduced, and SVSU will hopefully continue its winning ways, he said.
Saginaw Valley’s next test comes at Notre Dame of Ohio on Thursday, March 16, followed by a double header against Ursuline on Saturday. The team begins GLIAC play Saturday, March 25 against Walsh. SVSU is looking to improve upon a sixth place finish in the conference from a year ago.
Rousse is looking at the positives for the remainder of the season. She believes her team is on track to succeed and do big things.
“Our pitchers have been so dominant and our hitters have been so dominant, I think we’re going to have a really great season,” she said.