Simpson softball picked fifth with young and competitive roster


Photo courtesy of the Simpson softball Twitter page.

by Noah Sacco, Staff Reporter

After three exhibition wins in Minnesota and weeks of 5:30 a.m. practices, the Simpson softball team is hungry to show its skills on the diamond for the 2019 season.

The Storm were tied for fifth in the American Rivers Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, sharing the spot with Buena Vista. Regardless, third-year head coach Brent Matthias is setting their goals high and aims to win the A-R-C title.

“Our goal is to win the whole thing. We think this is the year to do it because no one expects us to do it,” Matthias said

Getting there won’t be easy though. Many consider the A-R-C to be one of the toughest softball conferences in the country. In five of the last six years, three teams out of the conference have made it to the NCAA National Tournament.

Luther, Coe and Central have been ranked in the Top 25 for all of Division III softball in 2019. The Storm haven’t flirted with rankings since legendary Simpson softball head coach Henry Christowski, known affectionately as “Coach C”, led them to two national championships.  

Following a season with a 21-16 overall record and a 7-9 mark in conference play, the Storm have added a large freshman class to their roster. Sizable depth in many positions has created backfill and more of a competition nature throughout the team and has allowed new recruits to mesh with returners.

With these large numbers, Matthias said he and his players are building the season around their mantra: FAM1LY. Its mission is to increase the team’s sense of camaraderie.

“We always say ‘We’re the next closest thing to your blood family. We spend more time with you than your actual family,’” Matthias said.

Second-team all-conference sophomore pitcher Emily Bell is the Storm’s only returning all-conference player. Yet, the program is welcoming freshmen who have been champions in high school.

Freshman outfielder Olivia Allen was a two-time Iowa state softball champion and freshman shortstop Maxie Saceda-Hurt was a three-time Alaska state softball champion.

Senior leadership will be a vital part of setting the example for the underclassmen. Utility players Kayla Reusche and Arianna Kim are important factors in the success of the Storm’s season.

Perhaps the biggest player impact will be senior catcher Ashley Allen. Along with tying the school record for doubles last season, Allen was an honorable mention all-conference pick and was selected to the second team all-region squad. The senior catcher also claimed academic honors in being selected to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-America Second Team.

Simpson has brought in two new additions to the softball coaching staff, both with plenty of experience. Former Oklahoma softball player Casey Price will be the hitting coach and Jon Nachtigal, Ph.D., will compile analytics to assess the team’s progress and performance.

“We tell our players to surround yourself with greatness all the time and to not be afraid of people that are going to push you to become better. I think we’ve done a really good job of that with our coaching staff,” Matthias said.

The Storm recently traveled to Minnesota to play three exhibition games, all of which they won. Coach Matthias notices all of his players having this attitude of “getting better together.”

“It’s what I call a trickle-down theory. When people are having great success, you want that success to trickle to the others players. Hopefully we can continue that going into next month,” Matthias said.

Simpson will host its first conference game at home on March 30 against Central.