Softball team looks to regain its mojo in tournament

This is uncharted territory for the softball team. After cruising through most of the regular season with a blemish in the loss column here and there, the Warhawks have lost four of their last six games.

Even despite the recent losses, the ’Hawks (26-10) were still given a berth to the NCAA tournament, and will face off against Coe College (34-9) Thursday in Pella, Iowa.

Stang

The team hadn’t lost two in a row since dropping a doubleheader to UW-La Crosse April 26 of last year until it lost two to UW-River Falls May 1 and then lost both of its games in the WIAC tournament over the weekend.

This hasn’t lowered head coach Brenda Volk’s confidence in her team. She said all the ’Hawks need to do to get back on track is get back to playing “their” game.

“We didn’t have the best pitching, best hitting or best fielding last weekend,” Volk said. “I really want them to get back to having fun and staying loose. We play better ball when we’re relaxed out there.”

Aiding the ’Hawks in their quest for a national championship is their regional. In past years, the team has been placed in a regional with other WIAC teams. This time, it will face off against teams from all over the country.

Volk said she thinks this will give the ’Hawks the advantage, especially when senior staff ace Jessica Stang is out on the mound.

“Even though it’s a tough regional, I like that nobody knows us,” Volk said. “I’m excited we’re going elsewhere. That was our case in 2008 when we get sent out of state and it was to our benefit.”

The 2008 ’Hawks started regional play at Rock Island, Ill., and ended up as the runner-up to UW-Eau Claire in the national championship game.

In order to achieve something like the 2008 team did, this year’s team will need Stang to get out of the current funk she’s in.

In the team’s last four losses, Stang has thrown 24 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 6.65. Her current slump is unusual since in the other 126 2/3 innings Stang has pitched, she has notched an ERA of a measly 1.06.

Stang said although she has pitched many innings this year, she is not tired and still has plenty left in the tank.

“I wasn’t getting ahead in the count and that seemed to affect me a lot more than anything else,” Stang said. “I don’t know if it’s anything more than a confidence thing and knowing that I can do what I can do.”