Storm softball looks to get over conference hump


by Hunter Hillygus, Sports Reporter

In a conference thought as the toughest in the nation by some, the Simpson softball program has had a history of success, but with their last Iowa conference title coming in 2010, the senior-laden Storm have their sights set on that ever so elusive conference title.

As always, the Storm have come out of the gate this season strong, posting a 19-4 record while receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. The early season success is hardly a surprise, but the key to this season will be sustaining that early season success and carrying it over a brutal conference slate.

The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference features two ranked teams in Luther (seventh) and Central (18th), teams Simpson has struggled with recently.

“The IIAC is arguably the toughest conference in Division III in the country,” said interim head coach Kyle Owens. “In the past, everyone kind of beats each other up. Certain teams are always tough on you, I don’t care whether it’s Central or Luther, each team has a nemesis. Even if you’re supposed to beat them, they can sneak up on somebody.”

Going into conference play Owens has seen from his team what it takes to make a run at the conference crown.

“We have everything we need,” Owens said. “We have plenty of pitching, we have hitting, we have senior leadership, we have people in key positions. We’re just trying to concentrate on one game at a time.”

Taking the season one game at a time is a common adage in sports but this year, the Storm have taken that saying to a new level. The team has broken up their season into four different segments, simply titled as “Season One” (Michigan trip), “Season Two” (Florida Trip), “Season Three” (getting back to Iowa) and “Season Four” (postseason).

“We tried to divide our schedule down into four different segments. We’ve always had a really good preseason, we come back and all of the sudden things kind of muddle together. We don’t get it quite there. Season Three is where we’re at now, we’re starting all over again. Right now we’re 2-0 after Iowa Wesleyan,” said Owens.

When it comes down to it, the biggest key for the Storm in conference play will be their hitting. Leading the conference in home runs with 19 (the next closest teams, Coe and Loras have eight), the Storm have put on a display of power that is going to be paramount for the team’s success.

“Our team is built on power. It is not built on speed. Really what we need to do, we need to have if somebody isn’t hitting well or if they’re trying to pitch around our four hitter, our five and six hitters punish them. I know our pitching will be good, probably the best in the conference, I’m really confident in our defense, but (the key) just has to be our hitting,” said Owens.

With eight seniors on the roster this year, the goal remains the same for the Storm as it is every year: win the conference and go to the NCAA tournament.

“The seniors have really stepped up and proven that this is one of their goals and they’re just not going to be satisfied if they don’t win it,” said Owens.