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The Scarlet & Black

Softball needs 3 wins to make Conf. tourney

After a tough season, the Grinnell Softball team will face its final hurdle to the post-season this weekend, when they play a doubleheader against Monmouth on Saturday and another two games against Lake Forest on Sunday. In order to reach the Midwest Conference Tournament, the Pioneers will have to win three of their four remaining games.

“We’re going to have to play very well, play solid defense, get our pitchers dialed in and then keep hitting the ball like we have,” said Interim Head Coach Craig Arendt.

The women are coming off a tough weekend where they went 2-2 against two MWC teams. The squad won their first game against Knox 4-3, then lost, 7-10, in the second half of the double header. Against Illinois College, they faired similarly, winning the first game 9-8 and then losing 1-11.

“I was hoping to win three of four of them, but we did a lot of good things,” Arendt said. “We’re still in the thing, and that was the number one goal, to have this weekend mean something, and it does.”

The team scored 21 runs and batted .342 as a team over those four games. One highlight was Brianna Gallo’s ’11 setting of a new school record for stolen bases in a season with 18 so far, topping the previous record of 15 set in 1991 by Dori McClennan.

“She came to me at the start of the season… and she said, ‘I can steal more bases than they let me last year,’ and I said, ‘Go, green light,’” Arendt said. “She gets a good read on the catcher and the pitcher and she understands what she has to do take that base, she is very good, especially at coming from second to third and reading the short stop and realizing, hey I can beat her.”

Most recently, the squad played two games against non-conference foe Simpson College at home on Tuesday, losing both, the first by a mark of 2-8 and the second, 3-7.

“We like to play teams like that to get better for our conference game,” Jayme Wiebold ’12 said. “It is good to have games in between important weekend games.”

No matter the outcome of next weekend, Arendt, who for the two previous seasons volunteered as an Assistant Coach, will not be around next year in his current position, as the search for a permanent head coach is currently underway. Regardless of his short stay at the top, Ardent is just happy to be able to take part.

“I would love to be involved as long as they would allow me to be involved with it,” Arendt said. “I enjoy it immensely, I played the game for years, coached the game for years…I enjoy being around the game and will keep helping out here as long as they let me do it.”

Wiebold said that establishing a long-term coach is the key to building a successful team and future seasons, but she’s glad for everything that Arendt has been able to do to help the team.

“I hope we can get a solid coaching system, that will really help us,” Wiebold said.  ‘There is a lot of potential, but now we need to refocus this club to get the most of that.”

A small team, shaky coaching situation and a plague of injuries resulted in a tough season for the Pioneers, who now stand at 5-25. However, the season is still not over and next year can only bring more improvement.

“I think our chance of reaching the tournament increases exponentially next year, we’re going to lose one player but we’re going to have a key group of six seniors that are going to be the leadership of the team that have seen four years of valuable college playing time,” Kelsey Montgomery ’11 said. “We’re going to return wonderful players, both of our pitchers are underclassmen and this whole year of pitching and coming back next year with that experience will just help so much.”

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