Softball relies on pitching to catch fire


by Phillip Nicolino

While some people were wasting away their spring break in Iowa, the softball team traveled south to compete with some of the nations best.

The Storm competed in the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. March 9-16. They finished with a 9-3 record and came home feeling good about the way they played.

“Overall, we were satisfied with our performance,” said Head Coach Henry Christowski. “Things started to come together, especially after our first couple of games since we hadn’t seen any live pitching yet.”

Out of the 11 teams Simpson faced, four are ranked in the preseason USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Top 25 poll.

The women won three of those four games, beating No. 8 William Paterson 2-0, No. 9 Ithaca 6-0 and No. 20 Cortland State 2-0. Their one loss to a ranked team was to No. 1 Muskingum 5-4.

“I think that we did really well,” said freshman Rebecca Siler. “We played some tough competition and we showed that we can play against anyone in the nation.”

The pitching proved to be the strength of the team in the early going. Juniors Amy Kulisky and Brady Stumpff, along with sophomore Lyndsy Owen, have made at least five appearances. Kulisky leads the three with a 0.44 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched despite starting only two games.

“I think the pitching was really, really good,” Christowski said. “I can’t say enough about the performances that our pitchers had.”

Even with the early success, the team knows that there is still some work to get done. There are some areas that need some improvement in Christowski’s opinion.

“We were unable to get the timely hits. That forced us into some situations that we didn’t want to be in,” Christowski said. “A little more offensive punch is something we need to improve on to give our pitchers a little more of a cushion.”

Of the 12 games that the Storm played, nine of them were decided by two runs or less. Against teams as competitive as the women faced, some situations can be created that can be hard to deal with. But that pressure was handled well, and six of those nine games were won.

“I really felt that they handled that well,” Christowski said. “We were in some pressure situations and they handled themselves very well. These girls are a confident team and they know what they can do.”

Playing in close games early is an experience that could prove beneficial.

“This will help us because you have that pressure in close games,” Siler said. “When we go against teams later on, we will know how to handle it.”

The women now turn their attention toward this wekend’s Simpson Classic at Pickard Park where they will square off against Gustavus Adolphus, Monmouth, St. Scholastica and they will also see a glimpse of conference action against Wartburg.