Tina and Ike Turner may have an acclaimed rendition of “Proud Mary,” but the Crusader softball team has choreographed an excellent season of its own by rolling over opponents and expectations.
Despite starting the season with a losing record of 3-6 the Lady Cru have really turned their season around.
The women steamed past Sul Ross, scoring 61 runs over the course of the four-game series.
Senior psychology and counseling major Ashton Feight said, “We use teams like Sul Ross to build up our confidence and work on being better hitters.”
Hitting would be crucial as the ladies prepared for Hardin-Simmons. To keep the wheels turning, the Cru would have to face pitchers like Sarah Shurbet, who has tallied 39 strikeouts overall this season.
Coach Larry Hennig said, “The biggest challenge is offense. You have highs and lows, so that’s one of the things we spend quite a bit of time working on.”
The work paid off as the women overcame the determined Cowgirls; they won three hard-fought games, but only posted ten runs (the lowest total compared to other four game series).
“There were a couple of games we didn’t score very many runs,” Hennig said. “The defense we had in the series against Hardin-Simmons was the difference for us.”
As the team moves on, it will face stronger lineups, and players must work together as a unit. The grunt work, however, will be placed on the Cru bullpen.
Sophomore education major, Chandler Henson —catcher for the Cru — said, “Defense all starts with our pitchers, and so far this season, our pitchers have done an outstanding job on giving us chances to win ball games.”
On the defensive side, winning comes by finishing strong.
“Numerous times this year, we have lost the ball game in the fifth inning due to errors,” Henson said. “We need to come together as a unit and execute plays and finish the game how we started.”
As the ASC First Pitch Tournament winds down, the Cru must remain concentrated as preparations for the Championship tournament begin.
Feight said, “We haven’t reached our peak yet, and we need to keep focusing in practice.”
For this to happen, every player — regardless of classification — must be prepared to work. This includes the six freshmen, who have surpassed the typical stereotype of younger players lacking concentration.
The underclassmen play an important role for the team, and Hennig said, “We call them the rabbits. They help give us that team speed. They play the short game, and when they get on base, it’s really not a secret. We win.”
The Cru put Schreiner under the rug, clinching the West Division title. After dropping two games to the University of Houston-Victoria, the ladies will be headed to Farmers Branch, Texas, with a 20-4 conference record, and an overall record of 24-15.
Although the Cru have swept the division, their record won’t matter and the team is on a losing streak of three. They must focus and respect their rival, Hardin-Simmons. The Cowgirls are on a two-win streak going into the postseason.
It’s been a special season for the Crusader softball team, and — with the ASC Championship Tournament looming just around the corner — the Lady Cru will roll into their next games with tools greater than bat or glove.
Feight said, “We all share a special bond with each other, and I know we are going to do well in the tournament.”