Weather, Pipers heating up
The Pipers are playing well after returning from a mixed-bag Arizona trip over spring break.
April 9, 2017
Filed under Sports
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The Hamline women’s softball team had an enjoyable spring break trip in sunny Arizona, where they enjoyed nine days of warm weather, team bonding experiences and played lots of softball.
Though spring break trips are common practice for the team, it was their first trip to Arizona. Head Coach Rubbelke said that the goal of the trip was to get experience and competition and they had no shortage of either.
The team played 10 games with teams from all over the nation, including UW-La Crosse, Central Iowa, East Connecticut State and Benedictine-Mesa. The Pipers went 3-7 on their road trip, with wins against Suffolk (MA), East Connecticut State and Benedictine-Mesa.
Though they found these games challenging and competitive, Coach Rubbelke says that it was good preparation for the competitive season ahead of them, which will consist of games with other teams in the MIAC, as well as a couple non-conference games.
“The conference is as competitive as it’s ever been,” Rubbelke said. “Other top teams have good pitching like we do and teams in the bottom of the MIAC have improved a lot and the conference has gotten a lot more competitive as a result.”
Senior pitcher Casey Anderson agreed that there were benefits to practicing and playing outside.
“The games in Arizona were the first games we played this year outside of a dome,” Anderson said. “It gave us a better vision of how we’ll play in the regular season.”
Sophomore infielder Mackenzie Hallquist is optimistic upon returning from the trip.
“I think the team will continue to get better as the season goes on,” Hallquist said.
Anderson thought the Pipers got a lot out of the trip.
“There is definitely room for improvement,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of talented players on our team this year so the rest of the season will be a lot of fun.”
Another aspiration Rubbelke had of the trip was to get a clearer idea of what the team needs to improve on before continuing in their regular season.
“Our top five hitters are as good as anyone in the conference,” Rubbelke said. “That being said, the girls need to continue to step up to make sure we have a successful season.”
Hamline returned to action after their trip and started their MIAC season on fire. The Pipers opened their home schedule against Carleton and swept the doubleheader last Saturday, 1-0 and 6-5.
The first game was a defensive battle that was won in the bottom of the seventh inning. First-year third baseman Kira Krueger hit a one-out triple and was singled in on a suicide squeeze bunt by junior right fielder Sydney Fransiscus. The second game featured much more offense but with the same result: a one-run victory by Hamline.
The team then had to turn right around and play yet another doubleheader the very next day. Sunday’s affair took place in St. Peter as the Pipers took on Gustavus. The weather was much colder than Saturday, but the Pipers’ bats never cooled off. Hamline won the first game 4-1 and won the second game in five innings, 8-0.
Hamline’s pitching over the weekend was stellar. Seniors Sarah DeMars and Anderson pitched two games each and went the distance in both, allowing a total of six runs in a combined 26 innings of work. That works out to a sparkling 1.73 ERA.
One of Rubbelke’s personal highlights of the trip is the health of his team.
“Everyone came out healthy besides the usual bruises that come from being hit by softballs,” Rubbelke said. “We’re ready to go.”
The Pipers return to action today in an afternoon-evening doubleheader against Macalester. First pitch in the first game will come right around 3:30 p.m. and first pitch of the second game right around 5:30 p.m.