Softball takes on Southwest Minnesota State in first NSIC action

The Minnesota State University, Mankato softball team is set to take on Southwest Minnesota State on Mar. 24 in their first NSIC conference games of the season. The Mavericks come into these games sporting a 16-6 overall record and were recently ranked #16 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll. 

The Mavs are coming off a 3-2 performance last week at the Fairfield Classic in Pittsburg, Kan. Last week’s 3-2 performance saw Mankato win games against Central Oklahoma and Missouri Southern, while also dropping games against Pittsburg State.

Thursday’s games between MSU and Southwest Minnesota will be meetings 95 and 96 all-time between the two clubs. The Mavericks dominate the Mustangs with an all-time record of 69-25. The Mavs also own a convincing home record against the Mustangs at 29-11.

Sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan leads the Mavericks’ offense this season with a .369 batting average and 11 runs batted in (RBI). Sophomore catcher Sydney Nielsen leads the team in runs this season with 18 while owning a .366 average. 

Senior pitcher Mackenzie Ward leads MSU in multiple categories this season including a 0.74 earned run average (ERA) and owns 129 strikeouts through 13 games pitched. Ward was recently named NSIC softball pitcher of the week for the third consecutive week as she went 2-0 and held opposing batters to a .182 average in last week’s Fairfield Classic.

In the field, Nielsen leads the Mavs so far this season accumulating 131 putouts with 0 total errors. Freshman infielder Emma Dennison ranks second on the team with 24 putouts and 0 total errors.

Sophomore utility player Madi Newman also earned top performance honors by the NSIC this past week owning a .438 average in four games played with seven hits and six RBIs. Newman also tallied 2 home runs and a double. 

On the other side of the mound, Southwest Minnesota is coached by Bailey Bouman. Bouman is in her fourth season with the Mustangs and owns an overall record of 55-53.

Senior utility player Bailey Johnson leads the Mustang offense so far this season with a .409 average and 27 hits in 66 at-bats. Sophomore infielder Paige Shwaluk leads SMSU this season with 13 runs while owning a .310 average.

Sophomore pitcher Allison Christians leads the Mustangs this season on the mound with eight earned runs this season through five games pitched. Freshman pitcher Karlie Miller owns the most strikeouts on the team with 29 and has the third-lowest opposing batting average on the team with .336. 

Johnson leads the team in the field this season with 153 putouts and four errors. Sophomore catcher Molly Bull has 58 putouts on the season so far and 70 catches. 

The Mavericks and Mustangs are set for a two-game matchup Mar. 24 inside the Maverick All-Sports Dome. Start-times are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Header Photo: Sophomore outfielder Kylie Sullivan leads the Maverick batters with a .369 average at the plate. Sullivan has tallied 17 runs, 24 hits, 11 RBIs, and three home runs in 65 at-bats. Sullivan has helped propel the Mavericks to a 16-6 overall record to begin the season and 10 wins in their past 12 games. (Maverick Athletics)

Write to Karson Buelow at karson.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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