April 27, 2011
Bearcat Softball Field the place to be this weekend
By David Boyce
MARYVILLE, Mo.-As one of the best softball teams in the MIAA, Northwest Missouri State will get to see how it matches up against some of the squads just above the Bearcats in the final weekend of regular-season games.
It's a nice test before the final exam, which will be the MIAA Championships held May 5-7 at Blue Valley Recreation Center in Overland Park, Kan.
Northwest, 23-13 and 12-4 in the MIAA, enters its final four home games enticingly close to second place.
The Bearcats take on third-place Missouri Western, 34-11, 14-4, in a doubleheader that starts 3 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Northwest faces second-place Emporia State, 36-11, 15-3, at 1 p.m.
"Obviously, you want to finish as high as you can," Northwest softball coach Ryan Anderson said. "The thing that is important about this weekend is all four of us are playing each other. Emporia and Western are playing both UNO and Northwest. It's a big weekend for all of us."
The best part for the Bearcats is they are going into these important games with renewed confidence.
Northwest got off to a blistering start, winning its first six conference games. The bats were hot in cool weather. Four times the Bearcats scored six or more runs.
But in mid-April the bats cooled significantly. Northwest went through one stretch in which it didn't score a run in three straight games.
"Our bats have been silent the last month," Anderson said.
But that changed dramatically last weekend when the Bearcats broke out of a three-game scoreless streak by beating Truman 5-2 and 9-3.
"This last weekend we strung some hits together and really hit the ball like we did earlier in the year. That was good to see to get some confidence back," Anderson said.
One of the hitting stars was Kristen Uthe, who had five hits in the doubleheader.
Anderson liked the clutch hitting he saw from the Bearcats such as Lauren Chatigny, who had a three-run double in the seventh with the game tied 3-3. Dacey Hassey added a two-run single in the game-deciding seventh.
"We got some big hits in big situations when the game was tied or down one and somebody came up with a big hit and we came up with two runs and when Chatigny had a three-run double with two outs at one point, those are big. Those were the things we weren't getting the past two weeks."
So the Bearcats are back in the mode of thinking they can compete and beat anybody in conference.
"Yes it is," Anderson said. "We are starting to believe we can play with anybody. It's one of those things that if the bats are there, we can play. I guess every team can say that."
It should be a fun weekend for the Bearcats. They face their rival on Friday and one of the perennial powers in the MIAA on Saturday. All the games are at home, and hopefully the weather will cooperate.
Nothing would be better than seniors Kit Daugherty, Kristen Hessel and Dacey Hassey to win their final home games and go into the MIAA Championships full of confidence.
All three players have helped the Bearcats to the upper half of the MIAA. Daugherty leads the team in hitting with a .380 average. She also has five home runs and 19 RBI. Hessel has five home runs and 27 RBI and Hassey is hitting .290 with 10 doubles.
"I don't think we are worried about playing anybody," Anderson said. "Everybody knows that Emporia is good and Mo. West is good and UNO is good. We need to get it in our heads that we are a good team as well."
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