The Baker Orange

Softball focuses on conference title

Story by Jenna Stanbrough, Writer

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The Baker University softball team has faced the last of its non-conference opponents and its sole focus is now on the Heart of America Athletic Conference, with a 15-15 overall record on the season.

The ‘Cats faced Peru State College on Tuesday and after a 3-1 win in game one, they remained perfect in conference play.

However, the Bobcats handed BU its first conference loss of the season in game two, defeating the Wildcats 4-2 and making their record 5-1 in conference play.

After losing a doubleheader to Briar Cliff University 7-5 and 3-2 on Saturday, the Wildcats immediately turned their attention to their Sunday doubleheader against Culver-Stockton College. The quick turnaround was something the team had never faced before, but head coach Jamie Stanclift said they “always find a way to rise to the occasion.”

The ‘Cats swept Culver-Stockton with a 2-0 win in game one and 11-1 win in game two.

”A lot of our games have been tough and … from now on it’ll all be conference games,” sophomore pitcher Mallorie Nelson said. “We know that we can play hard. It gets hard to sweep teams, especially when you play the same team twice in a row.”

In game one on Sunday, Nelson recorded the win after throwing a one-hit shutout and striking out 14 batters.

Freshman pitcher Katt Cooper then threw six innings in game two, and senior Brooke Plummer stepped in for the seventh, allowing just one hit.

The Wildcats began their HAAC season on March 22 by sweeping a doubleheader against Graceland University 1-0 in game one and 5-1 in game two.

However, the ‘Cats fell in non-conference games to No. 15 Park University on March 26, 2-1 and 8-7. The Pirates had walk off hits in both contests. While the losses were “heartbreaking,” the character and determination Stanclift saw in her players was encouraging.

“Our ultimate goal is to win the HAAC conference and so that’s been our mission from day one, so regardless what happens in our non-conference games, we have a task to achieve,” Stanclift said. “We can work on handling those pressure situations and handling ourselves better at the end of the game so that we can … come out on top and get the win.”

Nelson was named the HAAC Pitcher of the Week on March 17 after recording the 3-0 win against William Woods on March 11, when she had 15 strikeouts and allowed just one hit. She was then named the HAAC Player of the Week on March 24 after her performance against Graceland. Nelson said her season “started out rough,” but the honors have given her the confidence she needed.

”It just kind of was like a reassurance that everything was going to be fine and everything was starting to come together,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve just had this feeling inside, that I mean, I can do it and it’s just nice now having that confidence that other people are seeing what I can do.”

Sophomore MaKayla Greeve saw her first action against Park after battling a strained hamstring, and Stanclift said she “came through big” for the ‘Cats, with three RBIs in game two. Since her first appearance, Greeve has seen action in each game and has had one hit and four RBIs.

”It felt really good to be able to contribute to my team’s success kind of in a new way since I had been injured and moral support was my role on the team,” Greeve said.

From here on out, it’s all conference play as the Wildcats look toward the HAAC championship and making a postseason run. The team is focused on three main goals heading into conference play.

“Consistency, confidence and mental toughness. That’s what it takes to dominate in the HAAC,” Stanclift said.

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