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Grinnell softball prepares for upcoming battle against Lake Forest

Amanda+Ramirez+%E2%80%9923+put+on+a+strong+hitting+display+in+the+recent+series+against+Monmouth+and+Knox+College.+Contributed+by+Ted+Schultz.
Cory Hall
Amanda Ramirez ’23 put on a strong hitting display in the recent series against Monmouth and Knox College. Contributed by Ted Schultz.

The Grinnell College softball team began conference play April 2 and 3 against Monmouth and Knox College with a convincing three wins and one loss, pushing their overall season record to 8-9. The team looks ahead now to their next conference series on April 15 against Lake Forest, a historically tough competitor for the pioneers to best — having won only 7 games out of 49 matchups with the Foresters since 1998. The Lake Forest squad have been the regular season Midwest Conference Champions each year since 2017 and will pose a threat unlike Knox and Monmouth who have not made it to the MWC Tournament since 1991 and 2015 respectively.  

In face of this challenge, in the midst of a burgeoning David and Goliath matchup between the defending champions and the historically weak Pioneers, infielder Amanda Ramirez ‘23 says, “we are ready for Lake Forest.”  

Ramirez has reason to speak with such confidence though, as she went four for four in the second bout of the Monmouth doubleheader. Of her four hits two were triples, tying the Grinnell College record for triples in a single game. That was not all for the junior powerhouse though, as she replicated the hitting display the next day against Knox — going five for seven on the day with two triples in the second game.  

Ramirez was only a piece of the winning puzzle though, as her teammates mimicked her success on the field. Kathryn Vermeulen ‘24 tossed a five-hitter from the mound in the first game against Knox, keeping them to only one run. Maddy O’Bryan ‘24 then one-upped Vermeulen on the mound in the second game by only allowing a measly four hits. Outfielder Emma Nelson ‘23 went three for three in hits during the first Knox encounter. The crux of this stellar coalition of athletic performance comes from “maintaining an extremely high level of energy throughout the game” says Ramirez.  

The Pioneers may need to rely on more than just energy though, as Lake Forest appears to be in top shape with wins over national contenders like Washington University in St. Louis, Emerson College, and Carthage College.  

As to the Pioneers preparation before the upcoming series against Lake Forest, Ramirez says they are keeping things simple: “We are just sticking to the basics right now and making sure we are hitting and getting contact and making the routine plays on the field. Overall, as a team we are trying to work together. Hopefully, if we can combine everything we have learned, we can come out and win those games,” she said. 

One may look through the record books, see the overwhelming history of losses against Lake Forest, and cast a pre-determined doubt on the Pioneers, but Ramirez believes the current Pioneer team has the advantage: “It is not intimidating to play Lake Forest because our team has never played Lake Forest … we are ready to come out and compete against them,” she said. Because the Pioneers have not competed the past two years due to COVID-19, the team consists of many players who have never taken the field sporting the Grinnell jersey. Of the 17 team members, there are no seniors, and only three juniors. On the opposition, the Foresters have four senior leaders, making for a matchup of the old guard champions versus the new-to-the-league Pioneers. 

The Grinnell Pioneers take on the Conference leading Lake Forest Foresters in a doubleheader Friday, April 15 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.  

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