New talent gives Jacks competitive edge at Cyclone Invitational

Haley Pratt Assistant Sports Editor

Jackrabbit softball initiated the 2013 season going 1-3 at the Cyclone Invitational this past weekend in Ames, Iowa. 

The Jacks’ competition in the tournament featured Indiana State and Iowa State and showed progression and great potential for a promising season.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and determination to get better,” head coach Alex Hupp said. “There’s still a lot more [learning] to go, but they’re doing great things.”

Saturday brought two loses for the Jacks, 6-2 and 3-0 to Indiana State and Iowa State, respectively. 

The Jackrabbits were fist to score against Indiana State when Elyse Eitel belted a homerun over the centerfield wall on her first swing in the top the first inning. Eitel and Emily Weber each went 2-3 at plate with a run scored in the loss. 

Freshman pitcher, Katie Lang gave up six runs on seven hits with eight walks and two strikeouts in her first complete game of collegiate ball. Fellow freshman and pitcher, Ashlyn Bender tossed a complete game as well. 

“For our two freshman pitchers, it was their first time throwing and you know what? They finished a complete game and they stuck with it,” Hupp said.  “That was huge.” 

Sunday entailed a big win for the Jacks over Indiana State 14-12, highlighted by Devan Larsen hitting her first collegiate career homerun to boost the Jacks to 14 with the three-run shot. 

Hupp said that in practice Larsen works hard, swings hard and continuously stays on the grind. As a sophomore, Larsen has plenty of time to improve, grow and continue to contribute to the program as she has thus far as a strong asset to the team.

Larsen concluded the game four for five at plate with five RBIs and two runs scored including a double and pair of singles along with her winning three-run homerun.

Junior KayCee Miller came up with a huge hit late in the evening. Another key contributor to the Jackrabbit win was Jessica Markanich who opened in the inning with a double up the middle, forcing extra innings. 

In Sunday’s loss in the first matchup against Iowa State, the Cyclones used three early hits to pate three runs and then added one more in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. 

Tossing the game was sophomore Jennifer Sutton. Sutton gave up four runs on seven hits with seven walks and strikeout in the loss. 

“[The game] started off a little rocky, but finished really strong and, I think, that was really good,” Hupp said. 

Hupp expressed great pride in her athletes from this weekend’s performance. Now having a greater understanding of the team’s strengths and area’s for improvement, Hupp is confident in the coaching staff and players going into next weekend’s games against UT Arlington, Central Michigan and Missouri State.  

She believes SDSU has shown great potential in preseason scrimmages throughout the fall and winter seasons and that the group of young women has shown growth on as well as off of the field. 

As the freshmen learn to balance school, practice and newly found independence, the younger athletes are fully immersed into the team’s support system through team-bonding experiences.

“Just gelling together and spending time off the field really builds the team chemistry and trust within the girls and the team,” Hupp said. “When you go out on the field, you already know that person, you know they have your back. It’s the little things that matter, really, it does.” 

The Jackrabbits are set to return to action this upcoming weekend at the UTA Maverick Invitational, hosted by UT-Arlington. The Jacks will start off the weekend with two games on Friday starting at 1p.m. followed by Central Michigan at 5p.m.