Softball bats out

The No. 21 Truman State softball team (29-6, 19-3 GLVC) saw its 11-game win streak snapped by the William Jewell College Cardinals (16-16, 11-9 GLVC) last weekend during the team’s doubleheader.
Riding a 8-1 win during the first game, junior outfielder Ally McReynolds said the team was overconfident starting the second game of the series. The overconfidence translated into a lack of execution at the plate, with eight runners being stranded on the bases during the 3-5 loss. Sophomore pitcher Kelsea Dorsey’s start to the game was marred by a dropped third strike that put Cardinal senior pitcher Rachel Hayden on base before senior right fielder Faith Song hit her first of two home runs, scoring three and solidifying the lead the Cardinals would hold all game.
Head coach Erin Brown said the team’s woes during the second game were compounded by an uncharacteristic lack of early called strikes and William Jewell’s tendency to come out swinging early. Sophomore pitcher Kindra Henze saw success during the first game with her movement pitches and was able to take advantage of the free-swinging Cardinals to allow just four hits during her game start. However, with calls not going her way, Dorsey couldn’t find the same success on the mound.
“[Henze] was able to capitalize by using her movement pitches early in counts,” Brown said. “I think part of the reason that the numbers don’t look as good for [Dorsey] is that her pitches that she works ahead with for a called strike weren’t being called by the umpire.”
While the Cardinals boast a .500 overall record and sit in the middle of the conference rankings, Brown said their record doesn’t show the kind of team the Bulldogs faced last weekend.
Sporting key wins against Southern Indiana University, St. Joseph’s College and Missouri Western State University, McReynolds said she expects close games.
“We knew they were going to be good competition,” McReynolds said. “I knew we’d have to play to our full potential, because they’re one of the better teams we’ve faced.”
The Bulldogs currently boast five of the top 10 hitters in the conference in their batting lineup. Junior third baseman Cate Simon currently resides at the top of the conference hitting statistics — her .450 batting average, .750 slugging percentage and .553 on-base percentage all lead the GLVC. Senior right fielder Kelsey Bollman’s hitting statistics put her right behind Simon, hitting .446 with five homeruns and a .466 on-base percentage.
Brown said the strength of the Bulldogs’ lineup lies with the team’s patience at the plate.
“They just continue to improve … and we still have some kids who aren’t even at their full potential,” Brown said. “When I look at other teams, one difference I see is that we don’t swing at pitchers’ good pitches. … A lot of them are getting pretty good at managing their at-bats by hitting strikes but not giving into what the pitcher is throwing.”
The ’Dogs bats will be a crucial part of their four games this weekend, as Bellarmine and Southern Indiana are coming into the doubleheaders with the third and fourth best pitching staffs in the conference, respectively. Bellarmine pitchers have put up a 1.41 team ERA this season while Southern Indiana sits right behind them with a 1.96 ERA, yet the difference between the two teams lies with their hitting.
Southern Indiana is fourth in the conference in team batting average, hitting .286 with a team on-base percentage of .349. However Brown said Bellarmine doesn’t pose nearly the same challenge to Bulldog pitchers. The Knights’ strong pitching is complimented by a middle-of-the-conference lineup at the plate, hitting an average of .271 and leading the conference in strikeouts with 195. Hinze and Dorsey have totaled 235 strikeouts this season, good enough for third in the conference.
“I feel good about our pitching staff and feel like both are very good and ready to go,” Brown said. “If we can bring our bats and play some solid defense, then I think we’re going to have a really good chance to have some success this weekend.”
The ’Dogs will begin their weekend at home with games at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday against Southern Indiana, before squaring off against Bellarmine at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday.

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