The MVNU Lady Cougars started their season over spring break with a trip to Florida, playing nine games over a span of six days.
The team, which hadn’t been able to practice outside prior to the trip, got off to a slow start, going 1-6 over the first five days. However, a strong final day in Florida ended with two victories by a combined score of 21-5.
Photo courtesy of Hayley Gray: Junior Sierra Enrique slides under a tag at second base.
Despite the spring trip’s 3-6 overall record, Coach Jeana Howald said the week was a success.
“We had a solid spring trip,” Howald said. “It was good to be outside and build on every opportunity we had to play.”
Howald said the goal was “to improve everyday on our trip, and we feel we accomplished our goal. We jump right into conference play and have to be ready to compete consistently every chance we get.”
The Lady Cougars returned to action immediately in Ohio, where their first outing to Cougar field on March 21 resulted in two victories in a double-header against conference foe Huntington University.
Now with a 5-6 record, and riding a four-game win streak, the Lady Cougars were trying to fit in a home double header against Goshen College (Indiana) during Wednesday’s rain.
Surprisingly, the Lady Cougars struggled to find their offensive side in the early games. The team managed only a total of six runs in their six losses.
Photo by Hayley Gray: Junior Lauren Arndt catches a pitch.
On the other hand, the key to their five victories has been an early offensive explosion. The Lady
Cougars put up big numbers in those wins, scoring a combined 44 runs.
Junior Hannah Shaffer has established herself as the leading hitter for the Lady Cougars so far, entering the week with a batting average of 0.400 and 5 extra base hits, including 2 home runs. Add 16 RBI, more than a third of the team’s total and good for fifth in the NAIA in RBI per game. She’s also hitting for a slugging percentage of .800.
Hayley Gray, Sierra Enrique and Konnor Byers have also contributed heavily to the offense, each hitting .300 or better.
The pitching staff has also come around quickly as freshmen Anna Boue’ and Savannah Bryner stepped into starting roles right away. Veteran Courtney Rengert still holds the staff’s lowest ERA at 2.17.
As with baseball, the biggest fight the team may face in the coming weeks is the ever-changing weather.