LU softball swings into season

Andy York

The Lawrence University softball team is looking forward to the beginning of their Midwest Conference season. The Vikings returned form their spring break trip to Florida with a 5-5 record. The Vikings have many players coming back from last season, including the entire infield. The Vikings return four of their five top batters from last season, and none of them are more important then sophomore shortstop Jenny Burris. Burris was a first team all-conference and all-region selection for the Vikings last year. She batted .440 last season and, in the ten games so far this season, she leads the team with a .432 batting average and 16 stolen bases in ten games.

Viking coach Kim Tatro has nothing but praise for this week’s MWC Player of the Week. “If she keeps her stats the same as last year, and so far she is on pace to do so, she will have an incredible year and be a huge player in our success.”

Burris isn’t the only player who is stepping up to play a large role for the Vikings. Senior Erica White is the most versatile player on the Vikings’ roster. She played every position but pitcher last year and is the new starting catcher for LU this spring. Her hitting is very good, and she will factor greatly in Lawrence’s lineup.

Junior outfielder Sarah Sager is another player coach Tatro feels will have a breakout season. She is batting .370 after the Florida trip, and she is very important to the Viking’s hitting strength. Coach Tatro feels that she does not have to rely on any one of these players for a victory. “Our lineup is very balanced from the number one hitter to the number nine hitter. Any player in our line up could go three for three or four for four on a given day.”

The biggest question mark for the Vikings is their pitching staff. They are missing their best two pitchers this season. Their ace, Gabe Ferley, is off campus this term, and their second pitcher, Pam Schimanski, is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Coach Tatro has to rely on three pitchers who have very little or no game experience. She is not worried, though. “They did a great job in Florida, and I feel they can do just fine in conference play.”

One player who is helping the pitching staff is freshman Lauren Kost. So far this season she is 3-0 with a 1.80 earned run average. She is the best pitcher on the Viking staff currently, having given up only seven runs in twenty innings pitched.

Because of the injuries to Lawrence’s pitchers, the coaches in the Midwest Conference ranked them fourth out of five teams in the North Division of the Midwest Conference. Coach Tatro does not take this detrimental to her team. “It just gives us more motivation to achieve our goal of making it to the MWC Tournament. I feel we are capable of finishing first or second in the division.”

Assuming the weather becomes more spring-like, the Vikings will host five games in two days against various conference opponents next Friday and Saturday.