Softball team going strong entering conference play

By Patrick Murphy

On Wednesday afternoon, the Macalester softball team went into the final inning of their conference opener down 0-3 to Carleton. In that inning, the team showed just how far it had come from a trying 2011 season. A pair of walks and Carleton fielding errors put Macalester in a position to capitalize against the conference rival Scarlet Knights. And capitalize, they did. Catcher Katie Fuller ’14 drove in two RBIs on a single through the left side of the infield to tie the game at three apiece. Infielder Erin Slater ’15 followed her up with a single up the middle that drove in Miranda Stokes ’15 for the walk-off run, capping off the furious rally. Despite dropping the nightcap 2-5, the Scots have shown themselves to be a completely transformed group from last spring. After an eight-win season in 2011, the 2012 team currently holds a 12-6 record on the young season. Prior to falling to the Knights to split the conference-opening series, the Scots had been on a tear, rattling off six straight wins. “It’s already been a great turnaround from last year,” said pitcher Amanda Knopf ’12. “It’s definitely rewarding to be pushed, see our hard work pay off and play up to our potential. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my last season!” Once again, Knopf has led the Scots’ pitching staff with a strong start to the season. In 11 appearances, Knopf has picked up six wins and boasts a 1.53 ERA with a 49-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 55 innings. In recent seasons, the Scots struggled mightily when Knopf wasn’t on the mound, but this year, a young supporting cast has emerged to support their ace. Stokes, Brittany Ehmann ’15, Alisha Barritt ’14 and Meghan Merriman ’14 have combined with Knopf to keep the team ERA to a stingy 2.20. The team has been every bit as good on offense, receiving impressive contributions from a cast of players. Stokes leads the team with a red-hot .460 batting average, a pair of home runs and 16 RBIs. Following Stokes is utility player Courtney Nussbaumer ’13, who is hitting .435 in limited at-bats. Outfielder Cleo Nagy ’14 has been hitting the cover off the ball with a .435 average, 7 home runs and 21 RBIs. Nagy’s seven homers are tied for fifth most in the nation. As a team, the Scots have been hitting .325, while opponents have been held to a paltry .231 average. “We’ve talked a lot about playing our game, coming to win and not letting the opponent set the tone for the game,” Knopf said. “And especially in conference, that means doing all the little things we’ve been working on—both in the fall and in Florida—as well as continuing to figure out what needs improvement and being able to fix those things as we go.” In the next month, as the Scots face a difficult schedule of talented conference opponents, it will be critical that the team continues to hit on all cylinders. “As a team our big goal is to have a winning record and finish in the top half of the conference,” Knopf said. The Scots host the College of St. Benedict on Sunday afternoon for a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 pm. refresh –>