Softball finally enjoys new stadium

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

After enduring multiple postponements and cancellations, the Jackrabbit softball team finally made their debut in the new SDSU softball stadium. Playing four games in two days, the softball team christened their new park.

“It was a huge advantage to be at home, and I think you’ll see that even springboard forward as we’re not so wore out for classes and everything this week. They’re already ready to get back to work this week,” said Head Coach Shane Bouman. “They’re rejuvenated … instead of being so worn out.”

The team hopes to use the home games to springboard them to an Independent Tournament title April 27-29 in Atlanta, Ga.

“It’s our national tournament for the most part because we can’t compete in the postseason. We want to play as good as we can possibly play and see where we rank up against the other independent teams,” said Bouman.

The Independent Tournament has added excitement to the season, Bouman said, especially for the seniors.

“I think it’s an opportunity to compete for a championship. During this transition, we haven’t had an opportunity to play for any type of championship,” said Bouman.

Bouman said the Jacks are familiar with the other teams in the tournament and the team has been gearing toward the Independent Tournament all season long.

“We feel that it is pretty evenly matched. Everybody is pretty much on the same playing field,” said Bouman. “There’s no doubt that we played the toughest schedule of all of them, and we’re hoping that strength of schedule is going to help us have a lot of confidence.”

The Independent Tournament consists of a four-game round-robin pool play to seed the teams for the tournament. SDSU will play two or three games in the tournament, depending on how they do. But Bouman said the team can’t look ahead in the tournament and needs to take it “one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time.”

“I think it’s real important for us to play well (in round-robin) and really set the tone for how we want to do things,” said Bouman.

Setting the tone for the Jacks starts with pitching. Kim Westendorf has battled injuries this spring, but Bouman said he expects Westendorf to be 100 percent healthy for the tournament. Westendorf’s health gives the Jackrabbits two pitching options for the tournament, her and Jenna Marston.

“Whoever throws the best this week will probably get the ball in the first game down there. If they throw well, they’ll keep throwing. If it’s not to the standards that we’re looking for, we’ll make a change, just like any other position,” said Bouman.

Even though they have two pitching options, Bouman looks for one pitcher to step up and carry the team.

“Anytime you get to a national tournament, something like that, usually one pitcher is going to carry you,” he said.

The Independent Tournament provides opportunity for the Jacks to turn around an otherwise disappointing season. SDSU is 12-27 on the season, having lost 20 of their past 23 games.

“We felt all year that we’re one play away from having a phenomenal season. Each game it has been one play, one at-bat, one pitch, that has been the difference between winning and losing, and we’ve been on the short end quite a bit. But we feel that by making one play, and we realize that we can make that play, will be the difference. And I think going down there (Independent Tournament), we all expect to make that play and comeback with some hardware, hopefully,” said Bouman Fedson, freshman infielder, tries to tag out an NDSU baserunner during the game on April 20.:Troy Miller