Warrior softball wins three of four games during home series


Joseph Eichele

Winona State University’s softball team hosted a doubleheader over the weekend against the University of Minnesota – Duluth on April 15, 2022 and against St. Cloud State University on April 16.

Mattie Slavin, sports reporter

The Winona State Warriors split against a tough University of MinnesotaDuluth on April 15 at Johnson Field in Winona. Earlier in the week, the Warriors were scheduled to face off against ConcordiaSt. Paul, but the game was canceled due to severe weather.  

The Warriors hope to continue to extend their four-game winning streak with their busy week.   

Head Coach Greg Jones highlighted several factors that have contributed to the Warriors’ recent success.  

“We hit the ball extremely well, but we also found ways to score first in the games and force the other teams to do catchup mode,” Jones said. “Our pitchers were able to work ahead in counts and we didn’t allow many extra-base hits.” 

Fourth-year player Marissa Mullen discussed how the Warriors have been playing well on both sides of the ball this season. 

“Our pitchers threw well, and our defense made plays,” Mullen said. “It was also exciting for our offense to put together good innings and have many different players get big hits.” 

The last time Winona State met University of Minnesota-Duluth on the mound, the Warriors took a close matchup 2-1 in Rochester, Minn.  

The first game of the doubleheader proved to be close. The first three innings were scoreless for both teams. At the bottom of the fourth, the Warriors were the first to score. Fifth-year Warrior Rylee Stout slammed an RBI single to lead second-year player Sam Keller to score.  

At the bottom of the sixth, Stout drove a two-run homer to put the Warriors up 3-0. At the top of the seventh, Minnesota-Duluth finally scored, but it was not enough to close the gap. The Warriors won the first game 3-1.  

Fourth-year Warrior Liz Pautz collected 15 stakeouts and currently leads the NSIC with an impressive 213 strikeouts this season so far.  

Libby Neveau, third-year, making her way to third base against the University of Duluth Bulldogs. The Warriors would continue to sweep St. Cloud State University in their next two games.
Libby Neveau, third-year, making her way to third base against the University of Duluth Bulldogs. The Warriors would continue to sweep St. Cloud State University in their next two games. (Joseph Eichele)

Coach Jones commented on how the Warriors’ strategy stays the same for each matchup–make good pitches, stay ahead in the count and play elite defense.  

“If we can limit what we give up on the defensive side, that takes a lot of pressure off our offense. On the offensive side of the ball, we want to execute our process and try to capitalize on as many scoring opportunities as we can,” Coach Jones said. “Ultimately for us to be successful, we have to limit them and capitalize on our chances.” 

Mullen noted the Warriors are excited for every challenge that comes their way and the opportunity to play as a team, especially this season.  

“We pride ourselves on playing really good defense behind our solid pitching, so that is a focus for our games,” Mullen said. “We also bring a lot of energy and passion for the game.” 

The bats were flying for both teams in the second game. The game started with Minnesota-Duluth bringing in two runs. The Warriors followed with an RBI from second-year Carly Engelhardt and third-year Libby Neveau. In the second inning, Minnesota-Duluth totaled six runs.   

The Warriors fought right back with an RBI from Stout and an impressive three-run homer from Mullen, bringing the score 8-6. At the top of the fourth, Minnesota-Duluth snuck another run to put them up 9-6.  

During the sixth inning, Minnesota-Duluth scored again. At the bottom of the sixth, Keller flied out to center field, but first-year Corinna Loshek tagged up and scored for the Warriors. Unfortunately, it was not enough and the Warriors fell 10-7.  

To close the weekend, the Warriors faced St. Cloud State University on home turf in Winona. The last time these teams met, the Warriors won 4-0 in Rochester, Minn. The Warriors swept St. Cloud State this time around too, winning both games at 9-1 and 3-1. 

Fifth-year Rylee Stout lines up to bat. The Warriors shared a split with UMD, winning 3-1 and losing 10-7.
Fifth-year Rylee Stout lines up to bat. The Warriors shared a split with UMD, winning 3-1 and losing 10-7. (Joseph Eichele)

Even though the post-season is quickly approaching, the Warriors keep their focus on the present and their next opponent to come. Coach Jones talked about the toughness of the league and schedule, so they cannot get caught looking too far ahead.  

“Our goals are the same week in and week out, [so] we try to keep our focus on being at our highest level each game and executing the game to the best of our abilities,” Coach Jones said. “The strategy will carry us through the regular season and into the postseason no matter who we play.” 

Agreeing with Coach Jones, Mullen commented on how the team works hard every game and aims to focus on their next challenge ahead, one game at a time. 

“Every day we are working hard to get better as a team, so we can be playing our best softball at the end of the season,” Mullen said. “However, we know how important each game is to our season, so we aren’t looking ahead to anything other than the next time we get to be on the field competing.” 

The Warriors’ record is currently 25-11 and 11-3 in the conference. Looking ahead, the Warriors will be taking on Wayne State in a doubleheader in Wayne, Neb. on April 20. The doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m. and will be live streamed on the NSIC website.