WATERTOWN, Wis. -- After spending 6 weeks practicing in the Maranatha gym, the Sabercats Softball team will begin their season tomorrow in the usual place - under the shelter of the Plymouth Creek Dome just outside of the Twin Cities.
It's the same routine for the Sabercats, who face challenges like waiting until an actual game to see a real pop fly. Welcome to playing softball in the North.
2017: a Look Back
Last year, the Sabercats finished with an overall record of 7-24, which included a respectable 5-8 showing at the home diamond, Brandt-Quirk Park. It was a season of resilience, as MBU fought off a long streak of losses to post 4 consecutive wins over North Central University during a 2-day homestand in April.
The Sabercats were held winless in the final few series last year, but the team had a lot to be proud of. Namely, a 6-2 NCCAA record, 2 NCCAA All-Region selections (Harmony Bailey and Hannah May), and 3 AD3I All-Independent selections (Bailey, May, and Tina Kolinski). Another notable accomplishment from last season was Harmony Bailey's 33 RBIs - a single-season record at MBU.
The Sabercats will settle into a comfortable rhythm of home games, as they will have a 14-game home stand, which spans from April 3-14. All told, MBU will have 18 home games (9 doubleheaders) in the 2018 season.
Items to note are as follows:
- First games............. March 15 at NCU Dome Tournament
- Home games........... 18 (9 doubleheaders)
- NCCAA games......... 6
- First home game..... 3/27 vs Silver Lake
- Last home game..... 4/20 vs Mount Mary
- Home field............. Brandt-Quirk Park
After enjoying an almost-nonexistent travel schedule in early April, the Sabercats will conclude the season with 3 away doubleheaders.
The Sabercats have a core of 8 veteran players returning to the roster. Harmony Bailey produced a powerful bat for the Sabercats last season, and the sophomore will look to build on her standout rookie season with another impressive year. Bailey will be the primary option in the circle for MBU. Tina Kolinski's lightning speed on the base path and her reliable mitt will be a go-to necessity for the Sabercats, as the 4-year player will don the blue and gold for the final time.
Katie Bender brings speed and understanding to the center field position. However, Bender's availability throughout the season will be questionable, as she has begun student-teaching this semester. Finally, Megan Rasmussen will be returning to the lineup after being on the sidelines last season as an assistant coach. Rasmussen has been a consistent option at second base for the Sabercats, and the grad student is expected to resume her duties at the bag this season.
Joining these 4 will be Jess Christensen, Kelly Dyck, Janae Jorgensen, and Joylynn Molencupp. All 4 of these players played in their rookie seasons last year.
Rookie Taylor Thome is slated to fill the shortstop position, and has already demonstrated her effectiveness with the bat and with the glove during this preseason.
Thoughts from Coach T
Even with 8 returners, the Sabercats still do not have much experience, as only 3 players have played for more than 1 year. Coach Rob Thompson notes that while the team has the right "purpose, process, and preparation", the glaring weakness of this team is their inexperience. But that doesn't stop Thompson and the Sabercats from setting high goals.
Thompson said that the team's main goal is to "honor the Lord, first and foremost." The team wants to be competitive in every game and log 10 wins on the season. The 6-game series with North Central, Finlandia, and Mount Mary will be key to achieving their competitive goals.
"Though this year's team isn't what I expected in terms of returning players, we are delighted with the team we have," Thompson said. "I consider it an honor to be their coach, and will continue to work hard to prepare them for each game, and more importantly, for life."
It all starts tomorrow for Thompson and the Sabercats, who will jump-start their season with an 8 a.m. game against Finlandia.
Catch details of that game at mbusabercats.com/composite.