Struggling veteran team stays positive

Solid pitching and timely hitting are two ingredients for success that the SVSU softball team is hoping to blend together in the coming stretch.

Through the first half of the season, the SVSU women’s softball team has posted a 11-13 record, going 4-6 in conference play.  Yet with most of the conference schedule remaining, the Lady Cardinals are looking to improve and compete for a GLIAC Championship.

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard Photo I Sean Dudley

Junior outfielder Jenna Holmes swings at a pitch in Sunday’s game against Northwood. Holmes went 4 for 11 with one walk and one RBI in the four-game weekend series.

“So far we’re struggling to put together a lineup that works,” said Natalie Wellman, occupational therapy senior and utility player.

Along with trying to find a lineup that can score runs for the offense, Wellman says that combining solid pitching, offense and defense has been a challenge so far. As a team, the Lady Cardinals are batting .240 and have an on-base percentage of .298 this season.

“We’ve had trouble combining offense with defense,” Wellman said.  “We’re trying to focus on stringing hits together and working on hitting with people on base.”

Combined with lack of synergy so far have been small mistakes and errors that Wellman said can and must be prevented.

“We know we’re good,” Wellman said. “We just have to put it all together.”

Despite the record, Wellman claims that the team is remaining positive overall and that they fully expect to improve and bolster their record.

“People really aren’t getting down on themselves and everyone’s staying positive,” Wellman said. “Plus, there’s room for improvement and a lot of girls are learning from experience.”

Another positive factor for the team is the experience that many of the players bring to the table with ten upperclassmen on the team.

“We also have quite a few girls with postseason experience which will really help,” Wellman said.

She added that the team fully expects to make it to the postseason and go deeper than in the previous year, when it made the national semifinals.

To do so, they will have to fight through a tough second-half schedule that includes matchups against division-leader Grand Valley State and the second place Hillsdale Chargers in the next two weeks.

Wellman said the team feels prepared to do so, partly because of the atmosphere and mindset that the head coach, who took over this season, brings to the team.

“He’s a little different than our previous coach,” Wellman said. “He preaches about having fun, which means there’s not as much pressure.”

Along with solid coaching comes preparation, according to Wellman, who described the team’s practices as being “high energy” and helping the team keep up its good composure and “swag.”

As for individual game, Wellman said that she pushes herself in practice and on the field.

“I try to stay really focused on the game,” Wellman said. “Just try to think about the game while you’re playing it.”

Wellman is hitting .313 with two home runs and seven runs batted in this season. In her second year on the team, she said she expects a lot from herself, and being a senior means sharing a leadership role with the other girls who have been playing for a while.

“You try to lead by example,” Wellman said. “Just be a quiet leader and show the other girls by working hard and setting high goals for yourself.”

Leadership also shifts from practice to the field for Wellman.

“We graduated some big hitters last year,” Wellman said. “So it can be tough going up there and expecting to get a hit plus everyone else expecting you to get a hit.”

The Lady Cardinals will be back in action at home Wednesday, April 4, to take on Lake Superior State at 1 p.m.

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