Softball expected to begin season after COVID-19 exposure

Maurice Hudson, sports editor

The Winona State University softball team is ready to get their spring season rolling after having to cancel their season opening games last weekend due to COVID-19 exposure.

Coming off of a 13-6 record last year before the season was halted due to COVID, the Warriors were on track to be a serious contender this year.

In recent seasons, the team has become one of the most dominant teams in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC). Coaches from across the NSIC again view the Warriors as a top contender this year, as they were chosen second in the 2021 NSIC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

The softball team’s Head Coach, Greg Jones, said although the team was ranked so high in the preseason coaches’ poll, the team isn’t focused on the end result, but rather on the process to get there.

“What we’re trying to do is be the best version of ourselves every day, and we have the talent in place and the work ethic [to] back our talent at the end of the day,” Jones said.

The Warriors played a few exhibition games against Grand View University and left both of the games with wins.

The season was initially supposed to start last weekend but due to COVID exposure, the games were cancelled.

Jones said the team is taking the uncertain season day-by-day and staying prepared for what’s ahead.

“If you get ready, you don’t have to get ready, you know?” Jones said. “So, no matter what happens next, if we’ve got to sit out for the next 10 days, next seven days, next five days, whatever, we’re still ready.”

Being “ready” is a key factor to the team’s rising talent. Winona State is hoping to hit the ground running this spring with the momentum of last year’s launch, plus the promising combination of returning talent and a good recruiting class.

“I am excited for our team to finally get back on the field,” Jones said. “We return eight starters, have seven new freshmen on a deep roster and we look forward to watching this team grow together and compete throughout the 2021 season with their toughness and teamwork.”

Jones also said he wants the team to be able to get back on the diamond and progress as a cohesive unit.

“I just want to get back into that game mode and get them feeling those moments and competing with one another,” Jones said. “Those are the moments we live for as athletes and I just want to get back to those moments of competing and grinding and playing with your teammates.”

Jones said the playing aspect will bring the best out of the team throughout the season.

“We have some talent on this lineup and on this roster, and now it’s just a matter of starting to see in game mode how those things come together and how we work together as a team,” Jones said. “I think for us, as coaches, [it] is really trying to figure out what lineup works.”

The Warriors hope to open up their regular season on Feb. 19 against Southwest Minnesota State University with a double-header at the RCTC Dome in Rochester, Minnesota.