Fresh off historic season, softball starts fall schedule


ABBY FULLENKAMP Paige Gerdes (16) during batting practice in the spring at the SJAC.

Andrew Holtan

After having a historic 2018 season, the South Dakota State softball team will begin preparing for the 2019 season with its first exhibition games Sept. 15 when they host St. Cloud State in an exhibition double header.

The Jacks went 37-18 last year, notching their best record since 2005. Their winning percentage of .673 was the highest in school histheir highest evertory and it was the second time in school history they had more than 35 wins.

SDSU finished its historic season by competing in a postseason tournament for the first time since moving to Division I in 2004. The Jacks lost in the championship game of the National Invitational Softball Championship to Loyola Marymount 7-1.

The Jacks return 14 players from last year’s team, including seniors Ali Herdliska, Megan Rushing and Julia Andersen. Herdliska and Rushing were named to the All-Summit League Second Team and Andersen was named to the All-Summit League First Team.

Head coach Krista Wood said she is excited to see the progress the returnees have made during the offseason.

“I think every year each kid can grow and get better in each aspect of their game,” Wood said.

The Jacks return a lot of talent, but will also have a lot of new faces on the team this season with 10 incoming-freshmen. Wood said the fall exhibition games helps her find out a lot about her team heading into winter training.

“It’s important, I mean we have 10 freshmen — so to get them out on the field and mesh with our returners. I think it will help us see what kind of team chemistry we have and what we need to focus on heading into winter training,” she said.

SDSU played only two games at home and got to practice outside four times last season due to weather.

“When you look back on it, it’s remarkable that we were able to win that many games,” Wood said.

The Jacks finished second in the Summit League during the regular season behind North Dakota State and fell to the Bison in the championship game of the Summit League Tournament.

Wood said the Jacks’ goal this year is to win the Summit League Tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament, which is something SDSU has never done.

“We need to be a little bit better on the mound and play solid defense,” Wood said. “I thought our offense kind of powered us last season. If we can keep our offense strong and continue to grow on defense and on the mound, we’ll be a solid team and we’ll have a good chance to win the Summit League and make it to the NCAA Tournament.”

SDSU will also face Concordia-St. Paul, Southwest Minnesota State and Augustana in fall exhibition games before beginning winter training.