After a fun training trip down to Florida to start off their season, the Lawrence University softball team played a doubleheader to open their 2018 home schedule on Wednesday, March 28 against a tough squad from Alverno College (7-6). They entered the final inning of both games tied but ended up losing by scores of 7-4 and 2-1 respectively. Freshman Ceara Larson hit two home runs in the first game, including her first career homer in the first inning. In the second game, sophomore Emilia Jackson allowed just one earned-run while giving up just eight hits and racking up seven strikeouts with no walks in a stellar performance.
The Lady Vikes’ bats came alive when they traveled to Rockford University (2-9) for another doubleheader on Thursday, March 29. Lawrence won the first game by a margin of 8-3 and accumulated 16 hits, including a bases-loaded double by junior Sophie Pedersen in the second inning. The offense kept rolling in the second game as the Lady Vikes won 15-0 in five innings. Sophomore Amanda Karnatz hit an inside the park home run and Lawrence added another 13 hits in this game. Jackson also pitched a shutout giving up only three hits.
“We did have a lot of success against Rockford,” said Head Softball Coach and Associate Director of Athletics / Senior Woman Administrator Kim Tatro. “Many times hitting can be contagious, and the team builds momentum from the success of others. Additionally, the strength of the opposing pitchers has an impact. In this doubleheader, it was likely a combination of both. It was enjoyable to have so many players have success at the plate.”
After Larson’s incredible offensive performance last week, she remarked, “I’ve been really lucky in my transition to college to have such a great coaching staff and teammates. With hitting there are so many little things you have to do right to be successful, and they have been great in helping me to improve my technique and prepare for college pitching.”
The opportunity to go down to Florida over spring break and start the season was also important for Larson, who said, “[Florida] was awesome. It was our first chance to be on real dirt this season and it did not disappoint. We played twelve games over the ten days we were there, and the weather was wonderful.” She added, “Overall, I think the season is starting out well! We are learning a lot about each other and how we play as a team. I’m definitely excited for us to start conference play.”
Looking ahead, Lawrence is about to start their conference season. For Larson, it is an opportunity to continue success. She said, “I’m looking forward to playing more games at home and seeing what we can accomplish. My goals for the season include having quality at-bats and helping my team reach the conference tournament.”
One of the challenges for the Lady Vikes this season is their youth as the roster features nine underclassmen and only four upperclassmen. According to Tatro, this is an area of focus for the team. “We do have a young team with only one senior. I think the biggest way that youth may impact our roster is that at times, we are inconsistent. With experience and confidence comes consistency. We talk about being consistent a lot and it’s something that we are working towards as we head into Midwest Conference play.”
With last week’s games, the Lady Vikes’ record stands at 6-10 on the season. Lawrence will begin its quest for a Midwest Conference tournament birth as they start their conference schedule this weekend. They host Beloit College for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 7, and will travel down to Lake Forest College for another pair of games on Sunday, April 8. Look for Lawrence to build on their offensive firepower as they continue to improve during the rest of the season.