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The Scarlet & Black

Softball loses doubleheader, prepares for weekend

The Grinnell softball team lost a double header against Buena Vista University last night at home. The Pioneers lost the first game 5-0 but kept it closer in the second to lose 3-2.
“The games went well, even though we obviously would have preferred to win,” said Catcher Julia Reese ’10. “The Iowa conference is notorious for being more competitive than the Midwest conference, so the fact that we can compete with teams like Buena Vista and give them a run for their money means that we are playing pretty well. We had solid pitching, a respectable defense and we were hitting the ball hard.”
These games were the first two of seven in next four days for the team. They will travel tonight to Janesville, Wisc. to face their first Midwest Conference (MWC) games of the season.
In Janesville, the Pioneers, who play in the South Division, will face all of the Northern Division teams in the conference. This is the only time that Grinnell will play their north division opponents in the regular season. Every team in the South Division plays the North Division teams once and each other twice. Winning a game against the opposite division is worth one point and games within division are worth two points. The two teams from each division who have the most points at the end of the regular season go on to the MWC Tournament. Last year the Pioneers were only four points shy of making the tournament. This year, the team plans to start conference play with a bang.
“[This weekend] I’d like to get better than half the wins,” said Interim Head Coach Craig Arendt.
The Pioneers are hopeful because the conference competition, particularly the pitching, that the Pioneers will face will not be at the level of many of the teams they saw on their Spring Break trip to Clermont, Fla.
“These are much more winnable games,” Stromquist said. “If we hit well this weekend we will win [most of these] games.”
This was the case when the team traveled to Florida. Despite winning their first game against Carleton 10-2, the offense struggled throughout the week. The Pioneers returned from Spring Break with a 1-7 record to start the season. The team is now 2-14 with the games they played this week.
“The trip to Florida was pretty good,” said second baseman Brianna Gallo ’11. “Our record wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped.”
“It was a learning experience,” Arendt said. “We learned a lot of what we need to work on and it’s all going to help in the long run.”
Two records that did fall Gallo’s way were the program’s stolen base records for a career and game. Gallo stole five bases in the Pioneers’ 5-4 loss to Washington and Jefferson College and now has a career total of 29 stolen bases as a junior. Gallo did not realize she had broken the career record until it was announced at a game later in the week.
“It feels good—after I found out I broke the single game record I was like, ‘I guess I should look at the career record maybe I should shoot for that,’ but then I found out that I already broke it,” Gallo said.
Gallo’s speed and finesse around the bases were important assets to the team especially in light of injuries that took two key Pioneer hitters out of the lineup. The team struggled with injuries as both Stromquist and Hannah Ney ’11 missed playing time. Hopefully however, both players will be back to full strength by Saturday.
“The biggest thing we’ve been focusing on is getting healthy,” Arendt said.
With only 11 players to field nine positions there is little cushion for losing players to injury. The lack of numbers also means everyone is playing almost all of the time. The upcoming five-game weekend will be a test on the Pioneers’ fortitude and focus.
“You lose your intensity when you’ve been playing that long,” Stromquist said.
After this weekend, the team will enjoy a majority of home games for the rest of the season.  However, the Pioneers are excited to prove themselves away from home and in conference play.
“We might not have a stellar record, but we’ve been competing against teams far better than the teams we will see in our conference,” Reese said. ”If we can play defensively and offensively like we played against Washington University and Graceland last weekend then we can compete with anybody in our conference.”

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