Three Lawrence softball Vikings were named to the All-Midwest Conference Team this past weekend. While the Vikings didn’t make it to the post-season this year, their skills were still recognized within the honors of their teammates.
This past weekend, May 3 and 4, the Midwest Conference post-season tournament was held. Unfortunately, due to weather, adjustments to the post-season had to be made. The venue and the structure of the tournament were changed in order to try and make it work. Despite the last-minute adjustments, the tournament was finished, and in the end, one team came out on top. This season was funky, and the conference standings really were up in the air until the very last day of games on Monday, Apr. 29. On that day, the Vikings split their doubleheader with Lake Forest. They won the first game 11-1 and lost the second game 10-1. Sadly, this still left the Vikings under the top four teams, which meant they didn’t make the post-season.
The tournament was host to Lake Forest College, Illinois College, Grinnell College and St. Norbert College for a double elimination two-day post-season. The final game came down to Lake Forest and St. Norbert. Lake Forest ended up taking home the championship and moving on to regionals. The fact that the Vikings beat this team 11-1 during the regular season and split with three out of the top four teams, shows exactly how close and competitive the conference was this season. While the Vikings missed out on a post-season opportunity, a few of the players on the team did receive recognition by the conference.
Three outstanding Vikings were chosen for the all-conference teams: sophomore Ceara Larson and juniors Emilia Jackson and Amanda Karnatz. Larson and Jackson were chosen as a first-team selection while Karnatz was chosen for the second team.
Jackson was a shining star for the Vikings this season. She had a major impact as both a pitcher and a fielder. She finished conference with a 6-4 record and a 3.66 earned run average. She struck out 32 batters (giving her 209 career strike outs) and only walked 14. She also showed her strength at the plate with a batting average of .244 in conference, with three doubles and nine RBI.
Karnatz also had a major impact on the Vikings’ season this year. She was chosen for the all-conference team for the third year in a row. As a leadoff batter, Karnatz hit .370 in conference, with a .485 on-base percentage. She scored 19 runs through the conference play, with five doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. On top of that, Karnatz showed her prowess in center field, tracking hits right and left, making diving plays and coming in clutch when her team needed her most.
Finally, Larson proved herself a standout this season with wicked great performance. Despite having injury issues with her calf and Achilles tendon, Larson put up big numbers and carried her team. Larson had a conference batting average of .509, meaning that she got a hit in over 50% of her at bats. As if that wasn’t enough, she had a slugging percentage of .982, with seven home runs, six doubles and 17 runs. A standout game for Larson this season was against Beloit, in which she went 5-for-5 at the plate with two home runs and six RBIs. Larson hit .545 in the eight games against the four teams that played in the post season tournament. This only further supports how competitive the Vikings were with the top of the conference, despite not quite making it to the post season.
Larson brings home an all-conference team selection as well as the Midwest Conference Player of the Year. She absolutely deserves this honor. Larson has a lot of skill on the field, but it is her bubbly and humble personality that is the real home run. She finished the season with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 34 games. Larson’s 11 home runs give her the third-highest season total in Viking record history, and her 34 RBI on the season ranks her in fifth.
A big congratulations to all three softball Vikings on these extraordinary honors. This team was full of a lot of talent this year, and though they will lose three seniors to graduation, the core of the team will remain. All they can do is build from there. Expect amazing things coming from this team in the near future. Three all-conference team selections is only the beginning.