The Simpson softball team is off to a hot start for the 2018 season. Despite being picked in the preseason polls to finish near the bottom of the conference, the Storm have already won 17 games, with only nine losses.
Senior infielder Taylor Davis is a big part of their success.
Davis has been excellent at the plate, batting .450 with nine doubles and four home runs. She was named Iowa Conference Female Athlete and Softball Position Player of the Week on April 1.
“This year I’m just more relaxed,” Davis said. “I’m a senior and I have nothing to lose so I’m a lot more comfortable.”
Davis didn’t always have the success she’s having now. According to her, last season was her worst season ever. She batted .160, had no home runs and struggled mentally at the plate.
“I was kind of psyched out from last year because I did so bad,” Davis said. “So I hit with coach a little bit more and he talked me through it and made me more comfortable.”
Head Coach Brent Matthias says that Davis has always been a solid hitter physically, but needed to focus on her batting mentally.
“I tell everybody that I wish I could tell you it was something I did and I’m this big hitting guru,” Matthias said. “We just tweaked some things and we also worked on the mental state of her hitting. We’re letting her have fun again and not telling her that she has to carry the team.”
Although Davis’ 2018 season has been stellar so far, she recently hit a bump in the road. While sliding into first base for a close play on the bag against Wartburg on April 5, Davis broke her finger, causing her to miss the next two games.
“What a team player that is,” Matthias said. “You know, to break your finger trying to win a ball game.”
Now Davis has to play with a broken finger for the rest of the 2018 season. She’s practiced on it and said she’s good to go.
“I hit and it felt fine and I took grounders and did okay,” Davis said. “I really want to play. Just keep feeling the same way that I am right now at the plate and in the field.”
Much of what Davis has done so far has been crucial to the team’s success. Last season the Storm finished 8th in the Iowa Conference and posted an 8-28 record. 10 games into the 2018 season however, Simpson had already surpassed their win total from 2017.
“We really wanted to be improved from last year,” Matthias said. “We wanted to play better and have a better team culture. We wanted to look at the scoreboard and the record later.”
So far, the scoreboard and record has pointed in favor of the Storm. Matthias set a goal for his team to qualify for the Iowa Conference postseason tournament, something that hasn’t been done since 2016.
“We’d like to be that team that every time they play a team, surprises someone,” Matthias said. “We were picked towards the bottom of the conference in the preseason poll and we’d like to prove to some people that maybe we shouldn’t have been there.”
The Storm are back in action Saturday, April 14 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.