Cru softball is in full swing, and fans are excited to see what the team has in store this season. Last season, the team finished with a record of 10-29.
The Cru advanced to the American Southwest Conference Championship tournament and finished the championship series 3-1. Despite this loss, the softball team still had an outstanding season, finishing with a 21-8 record in their conference games.
They started the season off hot, not allowing more than four runs until the seventh game when they lost by a margin of two points. One of the team’s greatest strengths was their offensive power. The team’s overall batting average was .307, and they had 34 home runs and 225 RBIs. Key pitching and solid defense led the team to a 2.54 ERA, 118 strikeouts and a .964 fielding percentage for the season.
Head Coach Larry Hennig, who has coached softball at UMHB since 2010, said, “We’re pretty optimistic every year. We have a good blend of experience and new talent on the roster. I feel like we have the opportunity to do very well this year talent wise. [It] doesn’t look like we have any shortages. The scrimmages looked very well. Our pitchers did great, and the defense also did well. Our offense was a bit up and down during the scrimmage, but that was due to it being the first at-bats of the season. Many people don’t realize we had a good reputation for home runs and we stole over 80-something bases last season. Hopefully, we find the right combination of power and speed this season.”
It is hard to gauge whether this year’s team will have similar statistics because the roster has a large number of freshmen. There are 22 players on the roster, 10 of whom are freshmen. However, Hen- nig does not feel as if this will be a detriment because the upperclassmen have stepped up to guide them.
He said “The upper- classmen understand that this is the first [time] in a while that they have fresh- men that can step up and fill these roles. In previous years, we had only one or
two freshmen, and this year we have several. All they lack is experience. They are great athletes and are very talented. It brought the team much closer with the older players stepping up and guiding the freshmen.”
In most sports teams, a leader emerges quickly in the beginning of the season. When asked if there were any particular players that have stepped into a leadership role, Hennig said “There are two, actually. Emily Bounds, our senior catcher, has stepped up to lead the team, and that’s what catchers do. Another player that has stepped up is Courtney Cummings. In the four years she has been with us, she has played three different positions, and we have asked her to go back to the outfield. She has stepped in and made everyone feel comfortable and has been instrumental in bring- ing the team together.”
The Crusader softball team kicked off this season with a doubleheader on Feb. 7 at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. Although they played well, they lost the first game 6-5 and the second 8-5. On Feb. 8, the Cru played Pacific University in a doubleheader at the same location. They lost 10-0 and 6-5.
Despite the slow start to this season, there is still plenty to look forward to from this promising team.