April 19, 2016

Though the weather is cold, softball team warms up

In the dome that is placed over Krenzler Field for the winter, the Cleveland State softball team stretches out before practice, first doing sprints, then lunges to finish the rep.

Coach Becky Norris is talking with a few supporters as the team stretches out and gets ready for the practice ahead.

“I just wish this rain would quit so we can practice outside,” Norris said. “There is nothing like being able to take infield practice on an actual infield and not turf.”

The Vikings softball team will begin conference play with a surprising record of 8-20, but Norris sees things a little differently.

“If you look at just our record it seems like we are having a disappointing season, but if you look at the opponents we have lost to or teams we took to extra innings, I think we have done well,” Norris said.

The Vikings have played in some tough tournaments and have lost to a few ESPN.com and U.S. Softball Top 25 ranked opponents in Baylor University and University of Louisville, but in those games they held their own, winning one game of the double header against Baylor and playing Louisville tough.

“If you look at our stats though, we are right there with the top teams in the league,” Norris said.

The Vikings are being led by senior catcher/first base Erica McNew who is putting up an insane beginning of the season hitting .447/.584/.724 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage (total bases divided by at bats)) with five home runs.

McNew is being helped out in the line-up by freshman Riley Ries who is hitting .309/.371/.420 with two home runs on the season, both of which are grand slams. Senior Katelind Phillips is helping the team with her .380/ .437 /.511 with two home runs.

The pitching is doing well for the Vikings as well led by senior pitcher Susan Knight who has thrown 67.2 innings and posted a 4.66 earned run average. Freshman Macy Kaisk has been a nice addition as well with a 4.20 earned run average with 58.1 innings pitched.

“We just have to take one pitch at a time this season,” Norris said. “We have a lot of young talent because two-thirds of our team are underclassmen, plus the in-conference schedule is not as strong as our out-of-conference schedule has been.”

The Vikings faced Youngstown State University three times on April 12 and 13 and then head to Valparaiso University for three games during the weekend. They are then home to Northern Kentucky University April 22 and 23.

“Hopefully it clears up soon so we can play outside,” Norris said.


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