The Baker Orange

‘Cats head to tournament with confidence

Story by Jenna Stanbrough

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Each day, BU softball head coach Jamie Stanclift expects her players to work harder and get better than the day before, but she also holds herself to those same standards. This may explain why, the players say the team has such solid chemistry and confidence as it heads into the conference tournament May 1-3

The Wildcats concluded their regular season April 23 with an overall record of 20-22 and a conference record of 11-8. The ‘Cats split the series with Benedictine College on senior night.

“Game two, the score definitely got away from us,” Stanclift said. “It never really sits well with you to lose the game by 10 runs, but I really didn’t think we played too terribly.”

Five seniors were honored before the games as they celebrated their last competition on Cavaness Field. The seniors were Tara Chumley, Renata Dill, Alyse Menghini, Brooke Plummer and Cami Williams.

Williams hit a two-run home run right away in game one against Benedictine, giving Baker an early 2-0 lead. This was Williams’ second home run of her college career, her first being her freshman year at Baker.

“It was a great feeling to make that kind of statement on such a big day,” Williams said. “Our last game on our home turf and … I knew I had to go out there with confidence and make a statement early on, because it was a team that’s equally ranked with us and just the feeling off of that was incredible.”

Stanclift said the seniors have led the team all season not only through their performance on the field but also in terms of showing underclassmen that sometimes it takes sacrifice to be successful.

Chumley tore her labrum in September and had the option of surgery or playing through the pain. While she opted to have the surgery after the season, she had to learn a new position in order to accommodate her pain. Rather than her usual position as catcher, she has moved to first base.

“My leadership has had to change,” Chumley said. “There’ve been games that I’ve been a leader from the bench, and when I’m not in the game, I really have to figure out how to lead in a different way than I’m use to. And I think I’ve really adapted to that and have done what I can to lead when I’m not on the field.”

Dill leads the conference in stolen bases, and she leads the team in runs scored and hits. She is also errorless in center field.

Stanclift said that Plummer, a pitcher, has stepped in during “some tough situations” and helped pull the ‘Cats out of some innings.

Although third baseman Menghini is a junior academically, she will be student teaching next year and was recognized on senior night. Menghini leads the team in RBIs, home runs and doubles. She also frequently led the Wildcats in batting average throughout the season.

As the seniors wrap up their final season, Stanclift wraps up her first season as head coach.

“I’ve learned a lot, and I think that just as I ask the girls to continue to get better and better every day and work harder and harder, I hold myself to the same,” Stanclift said. “So I’m looking forward to applying the things that I’ve learned this season to future seasons and continuing to get better and work harder and take this program to the top.”

Heading into the conference tournament, the Wildcats will focus on just a few things in order to fine tune, including limiting walks and focusing on minimizing batters’ pressure.

“I really think that this team is going to make some noise at the tournament. We’ve been fighting all year long,” Stanclift said. “We’ve shown a lot of character and this is it. We’ve earned our spot in conference tournament. We’re going to be there, so we might as well win the thing, right?”

Although the schedule is not yet set, as all teams have not completed regular season play, the teams, including the Wildcats, will play at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Blue Valley Sports Complex in Overland Park.

As of Friday, Stanclift said it looks like the ‘Cats will be either a No. 4 or No. 5 seed. They would then face either the No 4 or No. 5 seed, whichever they are not.

“I think overall, we have the confidence to beat every team in this conference,” Williams said. “We almost have in the regular season and we should’ve had a couple of those games, but we understand that the four or five teams that are above us, they’re scared to play us. They know how much we want it and how good we can be, and that we’re a threat even though our record doesn’t show it.”