Team chemistry brings success


Alex Fortuna

Sophomore Hannah Flynn gets a hit against Benedictine on March 9. Flynn has a .343 batting average this season with two home runs and 17 RBIs.

Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

The No. 23 Baker softball team now sits at 24-5 overall and 13-3 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference after winning nine of the last 10 games. The Wildcats’ sole loss since March 16 came in a 10-9 extra-inning game against MidAmerica Nazarene. Baker was recently ranked in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll for the first time since 2005.

Senior Stephanie Cardona has been a constant on the softball team during the past four years. Cardona knows this is the best softball team the program has seen in a while with everyone contributing to the success.

“If someone isn’t getting the job done on a specific day, someone else steps up,” Cardona said. “We have a strong lineup up and down and everyone’s prepared to go into the game at any moment.”

The Baker team has seen contributions from many players this season. Junior Olivia Brees has 152 strikeouts on the season, junior Lydia Konrade leads the team in RBIs with 27 followed by Cardona with 20 and sophomore Jazzmine Thorpe leads Baker with a .400 batting average.

Sophomore Riley Swickard said this season has seen a “near-180-degree shift from last season” due to the team’s emotional investment.

“Anyone can put in the necessary time and effort to make a good ball player, but if you don’t have that heart and emotional side then you really can’t be better than the rest,” Swickard said. “We don’t just have the talent, but also the chemistry, friendships, emotional investments and overall passion to be playing the sport.”

The ‘Cats most recent wins came in a sweep over Culver-Stockton College 2-1 and 3-0 on March 30 in Canton, Missouri. The Wildcats got on the board in the second inning with two runs off of a homerun from junior Megan Porche. Culver’s Sydney Williams hit a solo homerun in the fourth to cut the lead, but neither team scored any additional runs the rest of the game. Brees pitched game one for Baker, striking out 15 Culver batters.

Game two remained scoreless through the first three innings, but Baker earned two runs in the fourth inning, then added another in the seventh to win 3-0. Konrade and Porche each went 2-4 at bat and earned a run for the Wildcats. Swickard had two RBIs for Baker in her only at-bat of the game.

Senior pitcher Alexis Korte started the game for the ‘Cats, pitching 3.2 innings with no earned runs. Brees finished pitching the final 3.1 innings, striking out five more batters to add to her season total of 152 strikeouts.

Next up, the Wildcats will travel to Fayette, Missouri, on Wednesday to take on No. 18 Central Methodist in a doubleheader in hopes to continue the winning streak.

Swickard believes if the team trusts the process they will make it through the Heart tournament and to nationals.

“But like our coaches preach to us every single day, we only should focus on one pitch at a time in order to see success as a team,” Swickard said.