With the season drawn to a close, the team looks to leap into next season with a chance at redemption
As the 2017 defending champs came into the 2018 softball season, the team came into the year with only one goal mind, to repeat as national champions. With the team finishing the season with a 35-19 record, and an early exit in the playoffs, the Mavericks were eliminated with a bitter taste in their mouth.
In the NSIC softball tournament, the Mavericks lost back to back games against Southwest Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, both in which were decided by one run. Then the girls experienced humiliation on the national level, losing to Southwest Arkansas 9-1 in 6 innings.
However, the squad bounced back, understanding that the stakes were high. The Mavs won back to back matchups: the first against Washburn a 10-6 victory, the second against Augustana 9-4. It seemed like they may have found their groove and were back on track.
Little did they know, they had a date with Southwest Arkansas Muleriders, with the winner advancing to the next round. In a back and forth catfight (definitely change that, I was going to say claw-fight but that made no sense), the Muleriders came out the other side victors once again.
Being down 4-2 heading into the final inning, the Mavericks did all they could to comeback. Sophomore Carly Esselman drove in freshman Morgan Keim-Wolfe to get the Mavs within one. However, the Mavericks left two on base and a pop up signaled the end of the road for the defending champs.
There is no need to get the tissues out because these girls showed that they have what it takes to make it. Coming into the year with 11 freshman and 17 underclassmen in all, the softball team proved to not only themselves, but to the rest of the NSIC conference and everyone else, that they can get the job done.
Lone Senior Jessica Miedl did not disappoint, making the most of her last season as a Maverick. The star finished the season with a .429 BA, and led the team in hits, at-bats, runs, RBI’s, doubles, and home runs. She finished in second in walks and slugging percentage.
Who was given the most walks of the year? None other than Carly Esselman. If there was an award ceremony at the end of the year, Esselman would be the Most Improved Player, with the MVP being Jessica Meidl of course. There cannot be enough emphasis on how much of an impact Carly made on the Maverick softball team. The sophomore led the team in BA with .438 and triples with 8, and it tied with Meidl having started all 54 games. Esselman finished second in almost every other category, trailing only behind the senior in plenty of them.
Since we already have the MIP and MVP, mine as well finish it out with the Rookie of the Year. Now, I am no expert in this area as I am basing it on stats alone, with little regard to the previous year. Without a doubt, there were plenty of freshman who shined but the one who shined the most, was Torey Richards. The freshman took upon herself a stellar 15+ hitting streak midseason and is among the Maverick elites in statistics. She will be looking forward to making an even bigger impact next year.
Here’s to a great year from the defending champs and looking forward to another one come next spring.