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The Antelope

Lone Star State Success: UNK Softball impresses at Midwestern State Invitation

Kaitlyn Johnson looks to get a hit against Garden City CC. Photo by Kosuke Yoshii


The UNK softball team used a Valentine’s Day sweep to go 3-1 at the Midwestern State Invite Feb. 14-15 in Witchita Falls, Texas. The Loper beat the host Mustangs 10-3, Southwest Oklahoma State 9-8, Northwest Oklahoma State 10-2, and lost to Cameron 6-2.

“Everything was clicking,” said coach Ackermann. “We have a strong offense that understands the importance of scoring every inning and never backing down.  Our defense has made tremendous plays for us, even though we have had too many errors, we find a way to work out of it and climb back. Pitching has showed a lot of positives for us and I believe we are going to be a force on the mound in conference play.”

This was the second week in a row, that the Lopers traveled down to Texas for a tournament. Last week, they competed in the Lubbock Sport Invite in Lubbock, Texas.

In game one of the tournament, UNK went with their senior ace Erin Hallman (Lakewood, Colorado) on the mound. She did not disappoint going five innings giving up three runs on five hits.

The Lopers offense helped her out, by giving her more than enough offensive run support.

Sophomore outfielder Carlee Liesch (Lincoln, Nebraska) started the game off by singling up the middle. Two batter later Nicole Spykstra (Chandler, Arizona) doubled to right bringing Liesch around to score. A single up the middle by Hailey Schaneman (Grand Junction, Colorado) drove in another run and made it 2-0.

Midwestern State got one run back in the bottom half of the inning with a Lauren Lindgren homer to left field. The game stayed relatively close until the fifth inning when UNK plated three runs.

Avery Wood (Kearney, Ne) and Jasmine Broussard (Omaha, Ne) both reached base and used their speed to swipe a few base pads. Liesch earned another hit scoring both players. A Schaneman singled scored Liesch later in the inning.

Leading the way for the Lopers was Broussard who had three hits in three at-bats with one RBI.

“The main thing that I would say “clicked” that game was having a mental plan before stepping into the box every time I was up to bat,” said Broussard. “Knowing what situation, I was getting into, I would figure out what job I needed to do to benefit my team. I focused a lot on slowing everything down and trusting my hands.”

Against the Bulldogs of SW Oklahoma State, the win would not come as easy as it did in game one for UNK. After five innings of play, the Lopers found themselves trailing 8-7.

Pitcher for the Bulldogs Miranda Grover had problems with control in the sixth. She walked the first batter Katie Gosker (Blaire, Ne) and then later Broussard and Liesch.

With two outs and the bases loaded, senior Alexis Ray (Platte City, Missouri) stepped to the plate. With the pressure on she rose to the occasion and singled up the middle scoring the runners on second and third. 

With a narrow one-run lead, Megan Blake (Clay Center, Kansas) and Shae Muggridge (Perth, Western Australia) slammed the door shut and 

secured the victory. Blake earned her second win of the season and Muggridge picked up her first save.

In the early going, UNK has been very good in close games. They are currently 3-0 in games decided by one run.

“I think overall our culture has completely changed,” said Broussard. “We are really focusing on playing for our teammates and toward our team goals. Everyone has really stepped up this year, so that takes a big weight off of everyone’s shoulders. There isn’t one person that we doubt will be able to do their job on this team when given the chance.”

The success the Lopers experienced on Valentine’s day carried over into Saturday.

In their first game against the Rangers of NW Oklahoma State, UNK’s was clicking on all cylinders. They scored six runs in the first three innings of play.

Haleigh Hoefs (Lincoln, Nebraska) had her best game of the tournament driving in four runs and going four for five at the plate.

On the mound, the College of St. Mary transfer Kelsey Goodban (Lincoln, Nebraska) continues to prove how great a pitcher she is. She went 3.2 innings giving up three hits and no earned runs.

“Our pitching staff has been working extremely hard on finding their roles on the mound,” Ackermann said. “Almost all of our pitchers have been in different roles from starting, being a relief, and closing our games.  In my opinion, I believe all six of our pitchers have played a vital role in our first ten games and have been solid for us.”

Next up for the Lopers is the Edmonted Regional Festival in Oklahoma City Friday through Sunday. 

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