Recent wins, homeruns help boost confidence as softball gets back into the swing of things




The Vikings are continuing with another dominant season.

So far, Augustana softball is 21-8 and on a six-game win streak. This year, there are a number of new factors for the team, including players switching roles and younger players.

“Stepping up as seniors and saying that there is a level where we have expectations to reach, and not lowering the expectations for the freshman, but helping them rise up to the challenge has been our main goal this year,” senior second baseman Jenny Brown said. “We know what they’re capable of, and they know it too.”

As a senior, Brown knows where the team could go with the amount of talent that the team possesses.

“There have been little obstacles in our way so far,” Brown said. “But especially after this weekend, it gave us so much hope and spark that we can continue on our path, hopefully back to the national tournament.”

One of the most crucial dilemmas for the softball team so far this year has been pitching. Freshman Karlee Koopman has been out for six weeks in a boot and freshman Carley Pickett is currently battling a different  injury. So sophomore Jenelle Trautmann has taken the grunt of the work for the Vikings for the past month.

“She’s kind of like a Clydesdale. She’s a workhorse,” head coach Gretta Melsted said. “And her mere presence in a game changes the feel of everything.”

Another big change has come from one of the team’s seniors, Theresa McMahon, who usually plays right field but is now catching for the Vikings.

“She is awesome,” Brown said. “She really hasn’t caught since high school here and there, but she’s got a cannon and it is so much fun to watch her back there.”

The duo of McMahon and Trautmann, in terms of hitting power is crucial for the team, and both women are tied for the most home runs last season with 18.

This past weekend, the Vikings played two doubleheaders, in which they were victorious in all four games.

The first set of games, against Minnesota-Crookston, set the tone for the weekend. The Vikings dominated the games in which they hit four home runs, two by Trautmann.

The second day of games on Sunday were against Bemidji State, in which the Vikings put together an impressive 21-3 spread over the course of the doubleheader.

“I think this was the first time that we have put complete games together,” Brown said, “as far at pitching, hitting and fielding goes.”

Melsted echoed Brown’s comments about this weekend’s play.

“I thought we got better as the weekend went on, and I felt like the first game we played against Bemidji was the first day of Augie softball,” Melsted said. “We felt really in control and that was a big step for us.

“I think we have been in control of some parts of other games, but that whole game we felt really controlled. We also had a nice hitting performance in that game.”

Despite having a good weekend, Melsted thinks that when it comes to improving as a team, they need to stick with what has been working.

“We need to continue what we did on Sunday,” Melsted said. “That will be our key to keep going this season.”

The Vikings’ Wednesday game against the University of Sioux Falls was postponed due to inclement weather. They are schedule to play Minnesota Duluth at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 at Bowden Field.