The Minnesota State Mavericks softball team is headed to St. Cloud, Minnesota this weekend for the Regional Crossover/ Kelly Laas Memorial Invite.
The Mavericks closed out the 2016 season with a 45-17 overall record and finished atop the conference with a 23-6 record in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).
Minnesota State was voted to finish first in the NSIC Preseason Softball Coaches’ Poll, earning a total of 15 first place votes. Minnesota Duluth and Winona State round out the top three, with UMD garnering one first place vote.
“That is just on paper, paper means nothing. We need to take care of business, we need to do what we need to do offensively, defensively and pitching-wise,” head coach Lori Meyer said. “The game is won between the white lines, not on paper”
Senior pitcher, Coley Ries, was also named the NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year after finishing the 2016 season with a 29-7 record and a 1.18 ERA. Ries managed to strike out 434 and kept opposing batters to a .151 batting average. She threw 26 complete games and a total of nine shutouts.
“We have five of our top seven hitters returning and two top pitchers. Two thirds of our outfield is back and all but first base is returning in the infield,” said Meyer.
McKenzie Paap, sophomore outfielder, also had a noteworthy season. She finished second in the NSIC with a .448 batting average and seventh with a .473 on base percentage. Paap also notched 28 runs batted in (RBI) and struck out only 11 times in her 192 appearances at the plate.
“Right now we are at a point where Wednesday’s practice will be number 23. We just need to play someone else,” Meyer said. “Our batters need to face other pitchers, and our pitchers need to face other batters. Once that happens, we can re-evaluate and adjust accordingly.”
The Mavericks take on the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Viterbo V-Hawks at 6:00 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, they will close out the weekend by playing the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers at noon and the Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers at 2 p.m.
Minnesota State won both of their games against the Golden Bears during the 2016 season, propelling their overall record to 49-18-2 against CU. Concordia-St. Paul finished the 2016 season with a 12-36 overall record and 6-22 in the NSIC.
The Viterbo V-Hawks finished their National Association of Inter Collegiate Athletics (NAIA) season with an overall record of 10-43 and 3-20 in the North Star Athletics Association Athletics (NSAA) Conference. This will be the first time the Mavericks take on the V-Hawks.
The Mavericks have an 11-4 record against the Lopers, with their last meeting resulting in a 6-1 win for Minnesota State at last year’s MIAA/NSIC Crossover in St. Cloud. The Mavericks lead the all-time series 11-4.
Minnesota State last met the Rangers in 2008 at the Rebel Spring Games when the Mavericks edged Wisconsin-Parkside, 5-4. The Rangers however lead the all time series 3-2.
After the weekend tournament in St. Cloud, the Mavericks will then be headed to the UAM 8-State Classic February 17-19 in Arkansas to take on six more opponents.