Feb. 14, 2013
Softball heads south for 7-State Classic
By David Boyce
On the road trip to and back from Bentonville, Arkansas this week, the players on Northwest Missouri State softball team will do homework assignments and have some fun with catch phrase games.
In between the long drive, the Bearcats will play six games, beginning noon Friday and concluding 1 p.m. Sunday in the Arkansas-Monticello 7-State Classic.
“It’s a long trip. We do miss some school,” senior pitcher Jenna Creger said. “You have to get some studying in. It is kind of time to bond. It is not too bad being together that long.”
The Bearcats already have a couple of nice victories they can chatter about on their trip to Arkansas.
Northwest opened its spring season last weekend with a pair of solid victories at St. Mary’s, winning 11-3 and 10-2.
In the first game, Creger went 4 innings, struck out seven, allowing two hits and no runs.
“I thought for the first outing, it wasn’t bad,” Creger said. “As a team, I thought all the pitchers did well. Personally, there is room for improvement. As this weekend progresses, I will start hitting my spot a little more.”
In the second game, senior first baseman Rachael Schmitz went 4 for 4 and knocked in two runs.
“We were all ready to go and play and we played that way,” Schmitz said. “Our bats were really hot and we came out ready to play.”
The competition gets a little tougher this weekend, but these Bearcats are ready for it.
Northwest is coming off a season in which they finished 20-31 overall and 7-13 in the MIAA.
With 10 seniors on this year’s squad, the expectations are high. The senior class has experience and determination to improve on last season.
“I talked to a lot of the seniors. I keep telling them that this is the last time we get to play competitively so we might as well go out with a bang and do the best we can,” said Creger, who is already the school’s all-time strikeout leader with 414.
“Last year we were kind of an older team, but we had a lot of transfers. This year we know each other well and we have high standards. Hopefully, that will end up giving us a lot of confidence.”
Schmitz feels the same way. Like Creger, Schmitz is also in her fourth season with the Bearcats.
“We have high expectations for ourselves,” Schmitz said. “I think, as a team, we can meet our expectations.
“We have to go out and play and have fun.”
The Bearcats are taking that attitude to Arkansas.
“We can definitely win if we play like we did last weekend,” Schmitz said. “I think our team can beat anybody.
“I think we have that bond. We all get along. We all have the same goals. We know what is expected of us to make our team better. I think we all understand that.”
It is all about building momentum before heading into conference play. This is the first of three weekend tournaments before conference play starts.
The Bearcats are ready to build on their season-opening victories and eager for their next challenge.
“I thought we did really well,” Creger said. “Everybody came out aggressive with the bats. Defensively, we did pretty well. We had a few errors, but it was the first time we have been on the dirt since the fall.
“I think it was nice to get confidence. In Arkansas, a lot of those teams already have a couple games under their belt and they have been able to practice outside. This gave us confidence and it got the first-game jitters out of the way.”
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