Van Zyl returns, as softball goes from .500

Van Zyl returns, as softball goes from .500

Sydney Mohr, Features Editor

Winona State University’s softball team came out of their first tournament of the season with two wins, two losses, and a cancellation due to snow.

The weekend started off with games on Friday, Feb. 22 with games against Grand Valley State University and Wayne State University.

While the game against the Lakers may have been a loss, the Warriors did not go down without a fight. The first tournament game of the season ended with an eighth inning, no-run streak until finally Grand Valley pulled out a run in the extra inning. The game brought a surprise, as senior Lani Van Zyl made her return after recently having surgery. Junior Jordyn Kleman was out with the sophomore Liz Pautz filling in.

Grand Valley’s Allison Lipovsky threw eight shutout innings, striking out nine batters and only allowing two hits, which came from Van Zyl and junior Alison Nowak. The best chance the Warriors had to score was during the first inning when junior Katie Kolb got to first but was unable to advance due to the shutout of batters.

Game two brought another loss, however a bright spot was provided to the team via junior pitcher Alyssa Van Valey, who allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits over five innings pitched. The first two Wayne State runs were unearned in the bottom of the first frame and the Winona State offense was unable to make up for the difference. They ended their second game 0-4 against Wayne State.

“With regards to our team this year and how I mentioned we kind of look at ourselves as the underdogs with regard to how much we have to move around and how much we lost last year,” Van Valey said. “I think we are also in the mindset of winning each moment that’s in front of us. It doesn’t matter who it is we are playing against our goal is to win each pitch and ultimately that will lead to our success in winning games.”

Saturday did end up bringing a completely different team to the field, as they won against the University of Findlay and the University of Wisconsin- Parkside.

Kleman, who missed all of Friday, returned to the team, throwing a two-hit shutout with twelve strikeouts to begin the day.

Alongside the performance of Winona pitcher, Van Zyl struck her 200th career hit with an RBI-double in the first against Parkside to bring in Kolb and score their first run. This hit brought a career high for Van Zyl and the Warriors as a team.

Pautz sat down the first 10 batters in route to her first win in as a part of the team.

The Warriors tacked on two unearned runs in the fourth frame before Van Zyl closed the day with an RBI-single in the sixth.

With scores ending 1-0 and 6-1, the Warriors walked off the field with heads held high and a fire reignited within the team.

“We have a lot of targets on our backs this year based off last year, so I think just staying true to our team and winning each moment for the person next to us will ultimately lead to our success this season,” Van Valey said. “I’m excited to see where this season will take us.”

Due to the impending weather, the Sunday game was cancelled.

“We have suffered some set backs and injuries. We have had some good and bad days, but we have 20 student/athletes who truly love to play for each other and enjoy the process of what we are doing.” head coach Greg Jones said. “They have a passion for the game and a passion to be the best at what they are doing.  I look forward to seeing where this ride takes us over the next few months. I see talent from our entire roster.  They need to believe themselves and what they are capable of.”

The Warriors will take to the field again this Saturday, March 2 in Peoria, Illinois against Truman State University at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.