The Truman State University softball team has had no time to waste in the opening weeks of its season. With the goal of ending 2017 as one of the top eight teams in the region and advancing to the NCAA national tournament, the Bulldogs opened the season with regional contests that will play a crucial role down the stretch.
Last weekend head coach Erin Brown and the team traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Music City Invitational where they faced four regional opponents from Ohio Dominican University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Saginaw State University and Kentucky Wesleyan University. Truman left with a 2-2 split and an opportunity to improve in the regional standings next weekend.
Brown says starting the games with regional play is a great opportunity but pressures the team to perform well early in the season. She says even games from opening weekend can resurface when the NCAA selection committee is deciding who will advance to the national tournament in May.
“We’re all trying for the top eight spots,” Brown says. “It’s so important right now to get those wins. We’re going to wear those [games] like a scarlet letter from here on out. Yeah, our team might be a different team in April than we are now, but this [is] our only opportunity to play them because of our conference schedule.”
The ‘Dogs were led by sophomore Lauren Dale in the pitching circle this weekend, who went 1-1 but gave up two earned runs in the last 15 innings. Brown says Dale had great outings, and Brown says she wants to see her other two starters demonstrate command like Dale has been.
For the Truman hitters, Brown says there are players who are performing better than their averages show. Though the hitters have been catching bad breaks in some circumstances, she says she needs to see some of her athletes separate themselves and fight for their spots in the lineup.
“Being consistent is knowing your role and being able to get a bunt down to advance a runner or hit a ground ball to the right side to score someone on third,” Brown says. “We left eight people on base against Kentucky Wesleyan, and that’s a game we should have won. I root for everyone to play — I picked them all to be on my team. I’m just waiting for someone to separate themselves.”
In addition to Dale’s tough showing in the pitching circle, the Bulldogs did have some stand-out performances from the weekend. Utility player Junior Kadie Orenstein turned in four consecutive two-hit games, and reigning GLVC freshman of the year outfielder sophomore Christa Reisinger recorded nine hits. Reisinger is batting .630 and carries a slugging percentage of .926. Catcher senior Lex van Nostrand drove in six RBIs.