Softball starts conference play off with some big bats

Even in a “feels like” of 22 degrees, the Vikings will play! Both the softball and baseball teams had to re-work their schedule due to weather, which usually would throw off a person’s game, but not for Lawrence’s softball team! When Appleton’s weather so kindly blessed them with cold weather, they rose to the occasion and slaughtered our near-town rivals, Beloit College!

When comparing both of the games played against Beloit side by side, the Vikings look like two completely different teams. The score in the first game had both teams neck and neck, until the last inning when the Vikings scored, winning 5-4. In the second game, Lawrence won 21-3. This type of slaughter is known as a mercy rule, meaning the game ended after the fifth inning rather than the seventh because the Vikings were leading by at least eight runs. 

Regarding the first game, sophomore catcher Ceara Larson was asked what happened in that last inning and  why she thought the team was so successful in the end. She said, “That last inning we were locked in and focused on the goal. Everyone had great at-bats and were extremely patient at the plate. Whether it was a walk or a base hit, everyone did their part. Then, when we went out on defense we were lights out.” Considering how the Vikings were the away team, meaning they batted first and their opponents batted last, this position threatened the Vikings’ chance for success. Not only did they have to score in the last inning to pull ahead, but they had to hold the opposing team in their last chance to hit. In the end, the Vikings were able to pull themselves together in this time of importance and didn’t let their confidence waver. They shut the game down, winning 5-4. 

Larson is a big hitter on the softball team and played a vital role in the team’s overall success by hitting home runs in both of the games against Beloit. When asked what went through her head when she was running around the bases and up to bat. Larson replied, “Whenever I stepped up to the plate I told myself to stay patient and look for a pitch I can drive. After I hit the ball, I was excited and happy I could help the team in such a close game. The biggest thing with hitting is focusing on one pitch at a time, so while I was excited about my good at-bats I focused on the at-bat I was in.”

On the second game, Larson said, “Our offense absolutely exploded the second game. Our approaches at the plate were great and we fed off of the energy we had from winning the first game. We did a great job of capitalizing on mistakes and hitting the ball hard. Overall, we executed, kept the game fun and hit as a team to get runs across.” Sometimes all it takes is a spark and then the flame just keeps burning and burning all the way to 21 runs, an astounding number for a game! 

On her goals for the rest of the season, Larson said, “My goal is to make it to the Midwest Conference Tournament and to battle every game.” It’s hard to remain focused and positive for every second of every game. Sometimes you will have bad days, but with the attitude that Ceara Larson has, she will push herself along with her teammates towards future success. 

Finally, Larson was asked why she started playing softball, at what age and why she still continues to play here at Lawrence. She said, “I started playing softball with the YMCA ‘Dad’s Club,’ when I was eight, then I moved on to travel ball when I was nine. The rest is history. I love the game and the people it brings into my life. Every game is like a chess match and it is so fun to think through. There is no better feeling than coming home to my teammates after a home run or yelling for joy with the defense after someone makes a great play. I love the team environment we have here and how excited we are for each other.” 

Softball head coach Kim Tatro said on the team’s success in the second game, “In many situations, it’s about the pitching match-up and our hitters matched up better with the pitchers who threw in game two. We also had positive momentum from winning a close first game which gave our team confidence.”

After being asked to talk about the third inning, Tatro said, “Many times, hitting can become contagious and it certainly did in that inning. Success at the plate can carry over from one hitter to the next, and it certainly did. Beloit also walked a batter and had an error, but for the most part we just hit the ball hard and gained confidence by doing so.”

Finally, Tatro was asked what her goals were for the team this season and how she planned to obtain those goals. She answered, saying, “Our first goal is always to strive to make the Midwest Conference Tournament. The top four teams in the league will qualify and our goal is to be one of them. The best way to go about this is to take one game at a time and control what you have the ability to control. Staying in the moment will be the best way for our team to achieve this goal.”

The Vikings continue their conference season this weekend, Apr. 6 and 7, travelling to Cornell and Knox respectively. Their goal is to continue to be smart, control what they can and have fun playing the game they all love.