Softball gets just enough offense

by Phillip Nicolino

Softball is riding into conference play on a high note after winning three in a row at the Washington Regional Tournament March 29-30.

The three wins give the women a 14-4 start to the season and some good momentum heading into their conference schedule which begins against No. 12 Wartburg today.

“We did really well. It was a good weekend for us defensively,” said sophomore Alexis Quijano. “Our defense was almost perfect all weekend. It saved us a lot of runs.”

The Storm got off to a good start by defeating Webster (Mo.) 2-0 March 29. Junior Laura Halbrook and freshman Rebecca Siler each hit home runs to provide all the offense that was needed. Quijano was 2-2 and junior Amy Kulisky pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits and striking out 10.

“Our hitting wasn’t there this weekend, but we executed when we needed to,” Siler said.

Simpson was able to win another close game 1-0 against Washington (Mo.) March 30. Sophomore Lyndsy Owen struck out nine, walked none and gave up just five hits while recording a complete game shutout. Quijano scored the winning run when Halbrook grounded out in the sixth inning.

“We came up with the hits when we needed them,” said Quijano.

The women won their last game of the weekend against Gustavus Adolphus 4-0. Quijano was 2-3 with a run scored and Siler was 1-3 with a run and RBI. Junior Brady Stumpff pitched a one hit, complete game shutout while striking out five and walking nobody.

The three shutouts Kulisky, Stumpff and Owen recorded this past weekend gave the pitching staff its 10th shutout in just 14 games. The team record is 30 which was set during the 1999 season when the Storm had standout pitcher Kelly Schade.

Many feel that the conference championship will be won by No. 3 Central, Wartburg or Simpson. There doesn’t appear to be a clear cut favorite, but the women like their chances of winning this season.

“We are good and we proved that down in Florida by beating some good teams,” Quijano said. “We expect to be contenders.”

There is no surprise as for what the keys to success are for the Storm. The pitching and defense will be the backbone of the team, and the sky is the limit if they can hit on a consistent basis.

“Our pitching is dominant and our infielders and outfielders are unbelievable,” Quijano said. “If we can hit, we will be unstoppable.”