Augustana Softball On Edge of the Postseason, and History
The old adage says, 'Rome wasn't built in a day.'
Over the last 42 years, Augustana has built a winning tradition through their softball program. Now, with four games remaining, the Vikings are one win away from achieving an impressive milestone.
The Vikings are sitting on 1,399 career wins as a program in their 42-year history. Overall, Augustana is 1,399-587-4. Head coach Gretta Melsted wasn't aware of the milestone, but knows this program is very deserving because of it's rich tradition over the years.
"That's an interesting stat that I didn't know. (pauses). 1,400 wins for a program is amazing. It really, really is. I don't think that people necessarily understand how strong this program is, has been, and will be in the future. To win that many games, there just aren't very many schools in the country that do that. And a lot of that credit goes to Sandy Jerstad. She won 1,011 of those. Those numbers are really, truly, truly staggering. So, for us, if we can get those 1,400 wins, that will be something special."
The Vikings play at Minot State on Saturday, and at Mary on Sunday to finish the regular season, and a chance to win 1,400 games in their program history.
Augustana is currently 36-11 overall, and 19-7 in the Northern Sun Conference. In the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, they are ranked 24th.
After being swept Minnesota State, and losing a game to Upper Iowa, the Vikings have lost three of four. Melsted speaks about the importance of finishing strong heading into the Northern Sun Conference tournament.
"We absolutely need to finish strong. Especially, because it's not really where you land in the conference, it's where you land in the region."
Hitting-wise, Jenelle Trautmann leads Augustana with 11 home runs and 42 RBI's. Trautmann also passed the school's all-time home run record (47) last weekend. Lindsay Spanton bats right behind Trautmann, and has seven home runs, 37 RBI's, and leads the Vikings with a .385 batting average. Jordan Schaffer also hits the ball with power, and has smashed 10 home runs.
On the mound, Trautmann is the Vikings ace with a team-best 22-5 record, and 2.08 ERA. Carley Pickett is 12-5 with a 2.35 ERA.
Melsted shares that even though the bats have come alive this season, the Vikings arms have been their strongest component of their team.
"Our pitching is what leads us this year. You know, in the past, and some of the teams I've had the past few years, especially the one's that made the Super Regionals, and the College World Series, those have been known for their hitting. But this year, I would say our pitching by far, and then our hitting."
The NSIC tournament starts May 1st at Sherman Park in Sioux Falls, followed by Regionals and Super Regionals. Melsted notes her team needs to do the little things in the postseason in order to be successful.
"To win the conference crown, and to keep moving onto Regional and Super Regionals, we need to get better at some things that don't show up on the scoreboard. We need to take more hits away from teams. Things that show up as a hit in the scoreboard. We need to be able to catch that ball, or field it. We just need to sharpen up some things. Not make as many base running mistakes. Get some key hits in situations by moving runner. I think that's going to be the key for us. Polishing some things up. I feel like we need to make fewer mistakes than we have the past couple of weeks."
Trautmann goes deeper, and tells what she thinks Augustana needs to do win a conference title.
" A (conference title) would mean a lot. It is going to be huge if we can get that. We need to continue winning our games, continue putting the pressure on defense as we have been, and continue hitting as we have been."
Overall, as the Vikings seek to accomplish their postseason goals, Melsted is thankful to be able to coach this team.
"It's a great group of kids. They are group of kids who really want to do well, they want to please their coaches, they want their teammates to succeed, they want to work hard, do well for their teammates and they are team that can handle being coached. It's a unique squad because everybody is part of the team. And I'm not just talking about the players, I'm talking about the players and coaches. That's what makes the team special. Those are the teams that do well at the end of the season."
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