The Augustana softball team coasted to a two-game sweep over Minot State last weekend, handily beating their Northern Sun conference rivals and solidifying their No. 24 national ranking.
In the process, the Vikings also garnered the 1400th win in the program’s history.
This milestone victory came during Augustana’s first win over the Beavers, during which the team racked up nine runs and 12 hits. Win No. 1401 came a few hours later with an 11-2 route in the nightcap.
“For a program to hit 1400 wins is outstanding,” head coach Gretta Melsted said. “It speaks volumes for the type of kids who have come through our program and the success they’ve had.”
According to Melsted, the Vikings have maintained a .7 win percentage since the softball program was first instated in 1973, making them one of the most successful collegiate teams at the sport’s Division II level.
“There are few programs in the Midwest who could match that winning percentage,” she said.
Melsted also mentioned that the prevalence of successful teams in the last few years and their contributions to the Augustana softball program’s history of success has been “a source of pride.”
Assistant athletic director Jeff Holm believes that surpassing 1400 wins is a testament to the softball program’s consistency.
“We’ve been fabulous since our inception,” Holm said. “Our girls work pretty hard, and that hard work pays off on a yearly basis.”
According to Holm, “their achievement is not surprising” when considering how the players balance their athletic and academic prerogatives.
“Their hard work, high moral character and ability allow them to succeed both on the field and off the field,” Holm said.
Following their triumph over Minot State, the Vikings had another field day against the University of Mary, holding their opponents to a total of one run over two games.
At present, the team holds a 40-11 record overall, 23-7 in conference play.
Freshman shortstop Sarah Kennedy views the Vikings’ accomplishments as a product of their resilience.
“There have been times that it’s been disappointing, but after, we have figured out what was wrong and bounced right back,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was recruited to Augustana as an outfielder, but came into this season slated as the starting shortstop. Since then, she has proven to be an outstanding asset to the Vikings offense, batting .352 with four homeruns and 24 RBI. For the Vikings 1400th win, Kennedy went four for four.
“There’s really no better way to learn than through experience,” Kennedy said.
With Augustana’s No. 24 national ranking (they are also 3rd in their conference and 8th in the Midwest Region) the team is poised for a lengthy postseason run.
Next on their schedule is the NSIC conference tournament, which will be held in Sioux Falls this weekend. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Due to their already high standing in the polls, the Vikings will likely make the national tournament regardless of how they fare this weekend. Melsted, however, stresses that the team will adhere to its strengths, and remain in the moment.
“We have to be playing our best ball,” Melsted said. “We don’t look too far ahead. We look at who we’ve got next game and go from there.”