Softball team already hot early on

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The softball team gave a preview of things to come this season as they dominated in Florida over spring break, leaving with a 10-2 record.

Led by senior pitcher Jessica Stang, the Warhawks obliterated their opponents, giving up a mere 25 runs in 12 games.

Stang

“As a team, we felt that doing well in Florida was very important,” Stang said. “We realized last year that every game counts more than we know.  Going 10-2 was definitely a great start, but we have to continue doing well now that we’re home as well.”

The ’Hawks look to continue this start in their home opener against Carroll University at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The team also has doubleheaders against UW-Superior and St. Norbert College on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

During the spring break trip, Stang was a force on the mound as she finished with a 6-1 record including six complete games.

Stang enters the season as a two-time WIAC pitcher of the year. She stayed true to that form last week when the opponents had a .211 batting average against her in seven games.

“The team as a whole has really worked hard at improving our mental aspect of the game this year,” Stang said.  “I believe it has already started to help our performance.”

The improvements have been seen in the entire pitching staff. Sophomores Sammy Kessler and Katie Boyle both pitched well in Florida to begin the season, 2-0 and 2-1, respectively.

Kessler has an astounding 0.70 ERA with one complete game through the first 12 games.

Although its  early in the season, Kessler said her offseason adjustments could help keep her ERA low all season.

“This past summer I went to a new pitching coach, Tori Nyberg, (former pitching coach at Northwestern University), and worked really hard on keeping the ball low,” Kessler said. “I’ve learned to think one pitch at a time and not to worry about the pitch before or anything else other than hitting my spots.”

The hard work is paying dividends early as Kessler has only surrendered 11 hits.

With how impressive the ’Hawks pitching has been, their batting has been equally dominant. They have outscored their opponents by 46 runs in 10 wins.

The ’Hawks hold a team batting average of .341, well above their opponents .217. They are led at the plate by freshman Mimi Ramirez, who is batting .472.

UW-Whitewater is also crushing its opponents in both hits, 110-65, and RBI, 55-19.

With conference play already beginning this week and a busy stretch this weekend, senior first baseman Jordyn Gaza said the team is looking forward to its home opener.

“We are hoping to carry that momentum from Florida right into our games up here,” Gaza said. “Being able to get out on the field and play against good teams was key for us.”

This year’s squad will try to return to the NCAA tournament with a young squad that boasts six seniors, one junior and 18 underclassmen.

UW-Whitewater, which finished 31-15 and 10-6 in the WIAC last year, is predicted to finish second in the preseason conference poll behind favorite UW-La Crosse.

“The team this year just seems to flow,” Gaza said. “We are all on the same page about what our goals are and everyone is working their hardest to achieve them. We have a ton of talent that is fun to watch.”

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