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Softball aims to top MIAA

UNK Softball player making a play

After improved 2018 season, Lopers set sights on conference championship


The 2019 UNK Softball team comes into the season looking to restore tradition to a proud program. With over half the team’s starters from last year returning along with an extra element of speed, the Lopers look to be competitive in the MIAA this season.

“We are a really close-knit group, said UNK third baseman Cheyenne Hamilton. “One thing we have this year that we haven’t had in the past is speed. A lot of speed that can do multiple things, like put down a slap or bunt and steal a base. In my opinion, it’s hard to play a team that can throw all that at you.”

Last year was a major improvement for UNK. They won six more games than the prior season and went 11-15 in the MIAA, good enough for 10th place.

This year’s team isn’t just aiming at improving their record, but also have their eyes set on being competitive with the top teams in the MIAA.

“The main goal for us is winning the conference tournament, Hamilton said.” “That is something we are working hard for and something we all really want to do this season.” 

The team opened their season on February 1 at the Kelly Laas Memorial Invite at St. Cloud State. In their first-round matchup, the Lopers drew the host team. 

UNK jumped out in front early in the game in the top of the first. Sara Sempek singled with two outs and drove in Alexis Howe from third base to put the Lopers up 1-0.

The Huskies responded in the bottom of the second to take the lead. Pinowski bunted to the left side bringing Francescon to the plate from third. The next batter Bowlins hit escaped the infield due to an error. This brought in Pinowski from second and Conrads from third to put St. Cloud State up 3-1.

The pitcher for UNK Erin Hallman weathered the storm and pitched a solid third and fourth for the Lopers only giving up one run.

In the fifth Emmans triple propelled the Huskies to five runs and an eight-run rule of the Lopers at 9-1.

UNK’s next game of the day was against Concordia St. Paul. On the mound was Knocke for the Golden Bears and Mo Vornhagen for the Lopers.

Early on, UNK got a run on a Sempek hit to centerfield. Jasmyn Broussard came around from second to score.

In the third inning Concordia St. Paul tied the game up on an error-stricken play by the Lopers. It started with a double down the line by the Golden Bears Hart and ended with a throwing error by the second baseman bringing Veenbaas to the plate.

The Lopers were able to get their second run of the game off an Emma Osowski single in the fifth. They carried that one-run lead into the seventh inning.

With there backs up against the wall and only a few outs to work with, Concordia St. Paul tied the game up with a ground rule double by Schattner. This allowed Hart to come from second and score.

UNK was kept in check in the top of the eighth, leaving the door open for a walk-off by the Golden Bears.

After pitching seven innings of two-run baseball, Vornhagen was switched out with Sarah Handrahan.

 Hart got things going for Concordia St. Paul with a single. Later in the inning, Schattner singled down the right field line bringing the winning third run to the plate.

Things didn’t get any better for the Lopers on Saturday. In the early game, they dropped another game to Concordia St. Paul 5-4. Sullivan got the win and Kaestner saved the game for the Golden Bears. Taking the loss on the mound was Erin Hallman, who gave up three runs in four innings of work.

Against Minnesota State UNK struggled to hit the Mavericks pitcher Ward. She gave up only one run in seven innings of work in a 2-1 victory.

After a tough weekend on the road, UNK believes most of their struggle was due to their lack of hitting.

“For us hitting this last weekend was a little rough, Hamilton said.” “It’s hard to hit early in the year because we haven’t seen live pitching. For us, if we would have strung some hits together we win because our defense and pitching was great.”

UNK looks to rebound as they head to another weekend tournament at the ALVY Early Memorial Classic in Bentonville, Arkansas Feb. 15-17.

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