The Simpsonian

Storm softball off to strong start in Florida

Going into the 2018 season, head softball coach Brent Matthias had some questions about his inexperienced pitching.

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Storm softball off to strong start in Florida

(Photo: Courtesy of Storm Softball)

(Photo: Courtesy of Storm Softball)

(Photo: Courtesy of Storm Softball)

(Photo: Courtesy of Storm Softball)

by Megan Frank, Special to The Simpsonian

INDIANOLA, IOWA — Going into the 2018 season, head softball coach Brent Matthias had some questions about his inexperienced pitching lineup.

After 14 games under the warm Florida sun, that is no longer a concern.

Freshman Emily Bell got the ball in the season opener and did not disappoint. The new kid on the block threw a no-hitter and set the tone early for the Storm.

“I knew it was happening, but I didn’t want to think about it,” Bell said. “I just kept telling myself to take it one batter at a time, since I didn’t want to jinx it. I definitely didn’t expect that in my first game.”

Bell’s no-hitter was Simpson’s first since Kacee Arey did it on March 7, 2012. This feat was quickly noted in the conference as Bell was named the IIAC Softball Pitcher of the Week, a title that has not been claimed by a Storm player since Abbie Van Vleet got it in April 2016.

“I was very honored. It made me excited for the rest of the season,” Bell said.

The Storm’s confidence skyrocketed early in the tournament as they won their first six games. They were handed their first loss of the season on day four against St. Vincent by a final score of 5-4.

“Overall, we didn’t play as clean as we wanted to, and I didn’t hit my spots as well as I would have liked to and as well as I had earlier in the tournament,” Bell said. “It was our seventh game in four days, so fatigue may have begun to set in, but we still should’ve beat them.”

This loss did not deter the Storm as they turned it around and beat Rosemont 21-0 later that day.

Simpson’s six pitchers, Bell, Madi Rasmusson, Arianna Kim, Mary Leopold, Emily Schilke, and Kelli Hanson, left the Sunshine State with a combined 1.36 ERA.

“We all encourage each other and push each other to do better,” Rasmusson, a junior, said. “We all work together for the same common goal and that is to win.”

The pitchers aren’t the only players contributing to the damage the Storm did over spring break. Offensively, the team hit .420 and plated 142 runs. Simpson scored just 87 runs in 36 games last season.

“I think the dugout played a big role in helping the team out too,” Rasmusson said. “They were always so loud and upbeat. It really helps everyone be in a good mood, and I think that helps with hitting too.”

Putting up runs early helped the entire team, as everyone got to see playing time throughout the week. A total of 19 players recorded hits throughout the week, which can be crucial experience when they get into conference play.

“It was really good for some of the freshmen and newcomers to get the jitters out. Later on, if we need one of them to pinch hit, they won’t be as nervous because of this experience early on,” Bell said.

Not only was it good for the players, it was good for the coaches. With so many players on the roster, this added experience helped them learn who was ready to take that next step and make big plays.

“This is the year we will have some challenges on who gets to play,” Matthias said. “Not because we don’t have anyone to play there, but because we’re so deep at positions. Everyone is pushing each other, so when someone does start it’s because they earned it.”

The Storm is scheduled to play six more nonconference games before Buena Vista travels to Indianola to play a double-header.

“Our goal to compete for conference title. The IIAC is the toughest in Division III, and anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Matthias said.

With 11 wins already under their belts, the team doesn’t plan on slowing down. Rather, they plan on taking the entire conference by storm.

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