The Gustavian Weekly

Gusties propelled into conference title contention | The Gustavian Weekly

By Craig Nordquist Staff Writer | April 24, 2009 | Sports & Fitness

Gustavus has found a way to keep their opposition at bay, despite losing their perfect MIAC season to a split with perennial powerhouse St. Thomas

<em>Photo courtesy of Sports Information</em>

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The Gustavus Women’s Softball team has displayed its dominance on the diamond this season by winning 19 consecutive games. The Gusties head into the final weekend of the season in prime position to halt St. Thomas’s bid for a sixth consecutive MIAC tournament crown.

Until Tuesday’s 4-3 loss against the Tommies in the finale of their doubleheader, the Gusties had not lost a game since their trip to Arizona in the early weeks of the season. Despite the loss, the team outslugged their conference opponents 124-16  through their first eighteen games of the season.

“Each of us wants to be strong and be better for everyone else on the team,” said Senior centerfielder and Captain Emily Klein. “We can’t dictate how the other team plays, but we expect to [go out there and] win.”

After their sweep at Concordia College on Wednesday, the Gusties  hold a two  game lead over second place St. Thomas heading into the final two games of the regular season. A crucial doubleheader split against the Tommies raised the team’s hopes that it can win its first MIAC championship title since the 2003 season.

“The whole team—and especially the seniors—[had] been looking forward to the [St. Thomas games] since the beginning of the season,” said Senior shortstop and Captain Rachael Click. “[On that same note,] we’re trying to keep our goals present and not overlook any teams until we get to the postseason.”

Junior Captain and pitcher Betsie Collins agreed that the team should remain focused on finishing the regular season on a high note before thinking ahead to the playoffs.

“We realize that we have to focus on winning the game at hand,” said Collins. “We just want to keep winning as long as we can.”

As long as the Gusties continue their winning ways, there is no reason to doubt that the team will go far in the postseason.

“It is really fun to have that number one spot [in the standings], but we’re keeping our heads level,” said Junior Captain and pitcher Callie Nelsen. “We have a very good chance [of making a run in the MIAC tournament] because we know that we are definitely capable of beating anyone we play.”

The Gusties are led by the potent lineup of Klein, Click, Juniors Jenna Johnson and Andrea Brown, Sophomores Emily Wendorff, Kirsten Prunty, Jenny Ewert, and Dani Cattrysse and First-year Lisa Klass. Throw in the dominant arms of Collins, Nelsen and Sophomore Erin Truebenbach, and it is easy to see why this talented group is poised for MIAC tournament glory.

“We feel that our chances [in the tournament] are very good,” said Klein. “We’ve been stressing as captains not to [put too much focus on St. Thomas]. They’ve had close calls, and we know they can be beaten.”

The Gusties now have 19 wins in a row, the second most consecutive wins in the program’s history. Each of the captains identified the team’s chemistry as the catalyst for the winning streak.

“This team has really come together, and everyone is pulling their own weight, whether it be getting a key hit or making a key play,” said Nelsen. “We all depend on each other and not just on one person [to do all the work].”

Click agreed that this year’s squad is more cohesive than in years past, and she believes that common goals have helped the team strive for success.

“In Arizona we decided [to set the goal] of winning the MIAC championship this year,” said Click. “Everyone being on the same page [and aiming for the same goal] is a big reason that we are successful this season. We play well as a team, [and because of that,] we’re having a blast.”