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The Antelope

The Antelope

Loper Softball rolls the dice in Las Vegas Alexis Howe, a sophomore majoring in pre-nursing from Papillion, looks to make contact with the pitch.

By Molly Stern

This past weekend, the UNK softball team started its 2018 campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Desert Stinger Softball Tournament hosted by the University of Montana-Billings. Every two years, the Lopers head down there for a sunny escape from the snow and cold to open up their season.

“We go down to the Desert Stinger because there is good competition there,” said head softball coach Holly Carnes. “We are guaranteed games down in Las Vegas because the weather is not a factor, and that is huge for us.”

The Desert Stinger features 28 teams from seven different conferences, all representing several different NCAA Division II regions across the western United States.

“This tournament is a great way to see what other softball teams are like and to face good competition from around the country,” Carnes said. “We are at a disadvantage because we do not get to practice on a field like these other teams, but it shows the girls what they need to strive for and the level they want to play at.”

The Loper softball team played five games over a period of three days while in Las Vegas. They went one and four, beating Notre Dame de Namur University the first day.

“Our record may not have shown it, but this weekend went really well,” Carnes said. “We learned a lot and were able to see the reps that we normally do not get to see when practicing inside for months at a time.”

Karlee Arnold, a freshman biology major from Parker, Colorado, led the Loper offense by going five for ten this weekend with five hits and seven walks. Following closely was Kaitlyn Johnson, a freshman K-12 special education major from Kearney. Johnson went six for 15 with two doubles and led the team with five runs batted in.

“I was really impressed with our hitting,” Carnes said. “We had great discipline at the plate, we were hitting balls hard and had a lot of our newcomers and young kids step up and produce.”

Meg Housholder, a senior advertising and public relations major from Parker, Colorado, was the winning pitcher in the Lopers’ lone win. She had seven strikeouts and only gave up five hits.

“We have a great pitching staff this year and we were able to see how they are able to work together,” Carnes said. “They genuinely understand what it means to be a staff and work together to be successful.”

The Loper softball team is made up mostly of underclassmen and transfers this year. There are eleven freshmen and three transfers.

“This team has so much heart and never gives up, so I cannot wait to see what they are able to do later on this season. We have such a special culture, and the kids are so excited and enthusiastic and have such great intensity,” Carnes said. “I am just excited to see what this season holds for this young, scrappy team.”

The Loper softball team heads to Bentonville, Arkansas, Feb. 15-18 for 8-tate Classic. They will play six games over three days.

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