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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Softball has two pitchers, no wins, a new coach and hope

This season, the Grinnell softball team is still trying to find its swing. After 16 games, the Pioneers remain winless. A new coach, tough schedule and lack of new recruits have proved challenging, but also motivating to these resilient players.

“So far the season has been an uphill battle, but it really isn’t from lack of effort or hard work. We have played a really tough schedule and are playing a full schedule with one experienced pitcher,” said Head Coach Amanda Reckamp. “Our opponents are outhitting us and we haven’t been able to overcome the number of runs teams are putting across the plate.”

Captain Hannah Ney '11 fields a ball during softball practice on Wednesday afternoon. Photograph taken by Aaron Barker.

Team Captain Jayme Wiebold ’12 explains that the season is the result of a chain of events.

“The instability caused by the lack of a coach the past couple years has been difficult,” Wiebold said. “Perhaps the biggest difficulty it has caused is that there was no one to recruit for us, and therefore there is a lack of numbers as well as players to fill key positions.”

Reckamp sympathizes with the squad.

“The coaching stability has also been an issue. I am the fifth coach the three seniors have had in four years. We have a very committed group and they want to see this program reach the potential it has had for many years,” she said.

Critical issues also result from only having one experienced pitcher.

“We only have one pitcher [Amanda Stromquist ’12] with real game experience, and because we only have two pitchers total, we have to work harder than all of the teams we face,” said Kelsey Montgomery ’11. “It is also our coach’s first season, we are still figuring out how she works, including what we need from her as a coach and what we need from her as a team.”

Marlu Abarca ’14 admires Stromquist’s sportsmanship.

“The team really respects her for her efforts and the fact that she has never complained once,” Abarca said. “She simply goes out there and gives us the opportunity to make the outs.”

Through the tough losses and blowouts, the Pioneers remain firmly unified, strong and optimistic.

“We are looking to move past the situation we were put in the last few years, and I think despite all these obstacles we have the potential to be a strong team and program,” Wiebold said. “The softball program has been through a lot the past few years. This year we have a new coach who is doing an excellent job, and will continue to do so, as well as some promising new-comers.”

The Pioneers’ lack of wins can also be attributed to their rigorous schedule which thus far has included many teams from the competitive Iowa Conference, including Central College and Washington University, two nationally ranked Division III teams.

However, this season has not been without its ups. Stromquist tied Grinnell College’s career home run record in the Pioneer softball team’s game against University of Dubuque, which ended 15-3. The softball team also produced an impressive 13 hits against Wartburg, though the Pioneers fell 9-1 and 15-5 in their twin bill against the Knights.

In addition, the intense games and positive atmosphere has taught this season’s first-year players a couple of lessons.

“I would say the season so far is a test for many of us. For the first-years, I believe it’s a test for us to realize what college softball is really like. It takes commitment, physical and mental,” Abarca said. “As the new class, we are competing for starting positions, but we also learn that as a team, great things can be achieved.”

Now going into conference play, the Pioneers are expecting better results.

“We’ve played through a tough non-conference schedule and I think that now that the conference schedule is here all the hard work we’ve put in will start to pay off with some wins,” Montgomery said.

The team has a simple goal for the remainder of the year.

“Our team goals are to continually improve—which I think we’ve been doing—and to be in the conference race. Conference games start this weekend and I think we have the opportunity to do well,” Wiebold said.

The team will definitely have the opportunity to do well and to prove itself as the strength and spirit of the Pioneers will be tested when they head to Janesville, WI this weekend to compete in the Midwest Conference Classic Tournament. Grinnell plays Ripon College, Beloit College and St. Norbert College on Saturday and Carroll University and Lawrence University on Sunday.

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