Second baseman Maya Keating cheering on her team. Photo courtesy of Kylie Macziewski
Written by: Joseph Bahr
2020 may have cut the season short for many sports, but it is only added fuel to the fire for the Husky softball team with their team mantra #UnfinishedBusiness. This team motto was brought about from the shortened season in 2020. In a season that featured only 22 games this team was eager to get back on to the diamond and finish what they had started.
“We felt like we were hitting our stride after Florida, we didn’t get that opportunity with Covid we came here ready to play and we are just ready to go,” said Lauren Kirchberg, the redshirt junior captain of the Husky softball team.
At 10-0, the Huskies are starting to catch the attention of those who vote for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, NFCA. In the most recent rankings for all the NFCA Division Two rankings St. Cloud State received votes. The Huskies received nine votes to be ranked. The rankings, that go from 1-25, has The University of Huntsville Alabama ranked 25th with 26 points.
Getting this far into a season without a loss is not an easy task. Lauren Kirchberg, one of the senior leaders was not surprised by the early success though.
“We come to every game knowing that if we play Husky softball we’re going to walk out of that game feeling good about how we played,” said Kirchberg.
Head Coach Paula U’ren echoed that sentiment.
“One thing that really held us together when we got back in the fall, we already knew we had established leadership,” said Coach U’ren.
This Huskies team is led by captain Lauren Kirchberg. Kirchberg is a redshirt junior in her 3rd year at SCSU.
“Being named captain was such an honor by my teammates and such a sign of respect,” said Kirchberg.
Kirchberg is a pitcher for The Huskies. She has pitched 18.1 innings while only giving up one earned run. She has 14 strikeouts while also having surrendered just 14 hits on the season.
The pitching of this team is a point of strength. The Huskies have only given up 16 runs in the 10 games they have played thus far.
“I think that has been our strength. We have a really deep bullpen,” said U’ren. “We have five pitchers that all throw different styles and each one brings something a little different.”
This variety has contributed to the Huskies boasting a team ERA of 1.18 team, good enough for 8th in the country for all Division II softball.
There have been some spectacular individual performances as well from inside the circle. Sydney LaPoint threw a five-inning no-hitter against Truman State. In that game she controlled the game with 10 strikeouts. Trinity Junker threw a one-hitter over five innings against Viterbo. Junker would go on to punch out seven in that game. Kylie Thomsen has also found success inside the pitching circle. Thomsen threw a seven innings of two-hit ball against Southwest Minnesota State.
The pitchers of this team do not get to have all the credit though. This is a team that is ranked fifth in team batting average in all of Division II as well, with a .441 team batting average. They are averaging over nine runs a game.
“We have so many talented girls, whether it’s pitching, fielding or hitting, who put in all the work in the offseason,” said Kirchberg.
It is still early in the season and the always tough NSIC conference is looming. The NSIC has produced two out of the three previous national champions. With games coming against Augustana and other tougher opponents on the horizon Kirchberg stressed team play.
“For us as the Husky softball team, we just take everything game by game and not overlook anybody.” said Kirchberg.
That game by game mentality will be stressed this weekend as the Huskies look to beat a team they have not beaten since 2014. With a weekend trip to the University of Central Missouri, the Huskies will look to continue the positive momentum of the early season before returning home to start conference play against The University of Duluth on March 30.