Softball sweeps tournament weekend play

Allison Mueller

Colin Kohrs / Winonan

The Winona State University softball team traveled to Rosemont, Ill. the weekend of Feb. 17 and returned with five victories in tow for a clean sweep of the weekend.

“To start out hot was really important to get everybody continuing to buy into the process. The process is the most important,” head coach Greg Jones said. “We don’t want to worry about outcomes, records and stats. We want to worry about how we’re doing it, and I think this really helped establish that what we’re doing to get ready is working.”

The Warriors (8-1) started out the weekend with a balanced game against William Jewell College from Liberty, Mo., winning 6-4.

“That was a really good game back and forth,” Jones said. “We had to hang on at the end to win.”

They won their next two games against University of Wisconsin-Parkside from Kenosha, Wisc. and Lindenwood University from St. Charles, Mo. 13-0 and 4-0.

The 13-0 victory against Wisconsin-Parkside was secured in five innings of play. Junior McKenna Larsen pitched all innings and allowed one hit and struck out one.

“I think the best game, or the most challenging opponent, was the last game against Wayne State out of Michigan,” Jones said.

Winona State finished this game 6-2 to round out their Illinois trip on Sunday afternoon. The game before the Wayne State University matchup was against the Missouri University of Science and Technology the night prior, resulting in a Warrior win 4-3.

“They were probably the truest test and measuring stick for us on where we were as a team because of how talented they were,” Jones said about Wayne State. “They’re just a quality opponent. Their pitcher is an All-American, and both as a pitcher and a hitter… Quality, quality program. They’ve long been a top 25 team nationally so I think that’s what made them unique. To be able to kind of measure ourselves against one of the best in the country was really important.”

With the five wins of the weekend, Winona State extended their streak to eight.

“It was exciting. It was one of those things where I thought the best part of the weekend was not necessarily the 5-0 record,” Jones said. “It was that we started to really play together as a team earlier than I thought we would.”

According to Jones the individual efforts were overshadowed this weekend by an incredible sense of togetherness.

“We didn’t do anything spectacular all weekend, we just played really well and we played together,” Jones said. “We played hard all weekend and nobody really cared who got the credit. Everybody was just happy to be contributing and playing together, and that was truly the highlight.”

Jones said this was visible through the interplay between offense and defense.

“Somebody makes a mistake somebody else makes a big play and picks it up. If we give up a couple of runs pitching wise and defensively, our offense finds a way to come through and score,” Jones said. “There’s just a grit to them that they really like to compete with each other and for each other. Everybody’s genuinely excited for each other.”

This upcoming week the Warriors will be tested with a barrage of ten games in six days in Clermont, Fla beginning Sunday, March 5 against the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“The challenge of Florida is very unique. It’s the volume of games we play,” Jones said. “Therein lies the challenge, I think, for us—staying sharp that long and needing to use the depth of our roster to our strength.”

By Colin Kohrs