WSU softball dominates, leaves weekend 4-1

Mattie Slavin, sports reporter

Winona State University softball dominated at the Lewis University Tournament this past weekend, Feb. 25-27. The Warriors’ record was 4-1 to finish out the weekend.

Since their last games before the tournament, the Warriors have been fired up to step out on the field again. Before this weekend’s tournament, they earned a winning record of 4-2.

Heading into the tournament, the Warriors focus on the competition ahead and improving every time they step on the field.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to compete again and for the chance to improve each time we get to play!” Mullen said.

To start the successful weekend, the Warriors tackled Wayne State University. In their last meeting two years ago, Wayne State slipped away with a win. However, during this meeting, the Warriors left Wayne State scoreless, winning the game 2-0.

Heading into the tournament, the Warriors focus on the competition ahead and improving every time they step on the field.

“Our approach is to anticipate more instead of being reactionary, to play with our hair on fire,” Smolenski said. “Take [what] the game gives us.”

Smolenski’s statement became evident in game two, the Warriors taking on Saginaw Valley State University. At the top of the first inning, Saginaw Valley State snagged the first two points of the ball game.

During the second inning, second-year Teaghen Amwoza scored on an error by Saginaw Valley. During the fourth inning, Saginaw Valley saw a run come in from Meagan VerVaecke’s double to left field.

At the end of the fourth, second-year Sam Keller scored on a passed ball. To finish off the game, third-year Libby Neveau and Amwoza both scored to close the game out 4-3.

The games brough a more positive outlook after the team went split the weekend before.

“[We want] to keep pounding the stone,” fifth year Rylee Stout said. “We will continue to battle at the plate on offense and work hard to throw pitches and make outs on defense.”

To start Saturday’s series the Warriors faced Ursuline College. This was the first match between the two teams. The Warriors made their impression, taking the close game 5-4.

For game four, the Warriors battled a close game with the #16 Grand Valley State University.

At the bottom of the first inning, Grand Valley State came out firing with two runs. At the top of the fifth, third-year Brianna Luciano and fourth-year Kayla Kerkman scored to even the tally. At the top of the sixth, Neveau scored again by an error from Grand Valley State. At the top of the seventh, first-year Logan Anderson scored from a double hit by Mullen. At the bottom of the seventh, Grand Valley State snuck in two runs to tie.

Going into extra innings, Kerkman drove a single to left field producing a score from Neveau. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Grand Valley State snagged two runs at the bottom of the eighth, ending the nail-biter 6-5.

For the last day of the tournament, the Warriors bounced back with a matchup against William Jewell College. The last time they met, three years ago, the Warriors dominated in five innings.

During this meeting, the Warriors shut out William Jewell 1-0. Fifth-year Liz Pautz had an impressive 18 strikeouts. Keller drove in third- year Cammi Riemer at the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win.

Fourth-year Marissa Mullen spoke about how the team chemistry and camaraderie in the dugout have been great to afford a great start to the 2022 season.

“The positive energy and excitement everyone brings on the team each day is going to help us throughout the season,” Mullen said. “We are always working hard to get better defensively and turn more potential hits for the other team into defensive outs for us.”

The Warriors’ record is now 8-3 and aim to keep improving their record in the upcoming spring break games in Florida.

This season, the Warriors have strength in numbers. Fifth-year Rylee Stout discussed the depth and strength of the team and how it will make an impact this season.

“We have such a deep and strong offensive lineup that we will cause some damage this year,” Stout said. “I have no doubt we will put up some big numbers against teams in the future.”

While in Florida, the Warriors will go up against ten teams. The Warriors once again will see Saginaw Valley State and Grand Valley State as well as some new teams not yet faced this season such as Davenport University, Wilmington University (Del.), The University of Southern Indiana, University of the Sciences, Southern New Hampshire University, Northwood University, Lindenwood and Millersville University.

The Warriors will be in action again against Davenport University on March 4 at 10 a.m. in Winter Haven, Fla. to kick off the week of games.