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Pioneer softball team win big against strong Lake Forest side

Lily+Seibert+%E2%80%9819+helps+the+Pioneers+to+a+huge+win+over+Lake+Forest+College+in+first+Midwest+Conference+game+of+the+year.
Lily Seibert ‘19 helps the Pioneers to a huge win over Lake Forest College in first Midwest Conference game of the year.
Lily Seibert ‘19 helps the Pioneers to a huge win over Lake Forest College in first Midwest Conference game of the year.

By Ray Goedeker
goedeker@grinnell.edu

This past Saturday, Grinnell’s softball team opened conference play with a hard-fought 5-3 win over Lake Forest College. This marked only the second win versus Lake Forest in 25 appearances.

“It was really rewarding because we have been working really hard in practice lately,” said Maddie Matsubara ‘22.

“It was really exciting for our team to start that way in conference, the team came out with a really strong mental approach and it paid off,” added head softball coach Lynn Anderson.

Matsubara has broken through as a top player in her first year, leading the team in hits and runs, as well as holding the second highest batting average. The matchup against Lake Forest was an exceptional example of her talent as she went four for four on at-bats, acquiring three runs and one RBI [run batted in]. With four hits, she tied the school record for most hits on a conference opener. Another noteworthy performance belongs to Darice Wheeler ‘21 who allowed only six hits from the opposing team.

“Everyone gets excited about conference games … having a first-year like [Matsubara] step up in that moment was great, we look to all the athletes on the team, whether it is a first-year or a senior to always try to step up in big moments, and Maddie did on that day and we look forward to all our players stepping up throughout the season,” said Anderson.

The team is currently 3-1 in conference after snagging two more wins over Beloit this past Sunday. Moving along quickly, the team faces St. Norbert and Lawrence College this upcoming weekend.

“Whether it’s Norbert or Lawrence, it really doesn’t matter what name is on the jersey we are playing. If it is a conference opponent, we will look at them like any other team. If it is Lake Forest who was picked to win the conference or a team who was picked last, the team will go in with the same consistent mentality, wanting to win.” Anderson said.

At this time last spring, the team held a record of 16-6, though this year has had a rocky start, with the current record being 6-16. This rough start is attributed to what Anderson says is “the toughest schedule Grinnell has ever played.” On their trip to Florida, Grinnell went head to head with some of the best teams in the country, including top-20 teams Tufts and Calvin.

“Playing those difficult games has set us up really well to perform in conference play, having the experience of those games is something we can look back to in the future when facing another great team,” Anderson said.

“Florida was really a learning experience because it taught us what we needed to improve on. We played teams who were a lot better than those in our conference, so I think we will be well prepared for any team we come up against through the rest of the year.” Matsubara said.

The Pioneers will continue their conference run on the road this weekend. The team plays on Saturday, April 13 with a pair of games against St. Norbert at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. followed on Sunday, April 14 with two versus Lawrence, also starting at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

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