WATERTOWN, Wis. (mbusabercats.com) --- The 2017 season was, as most seasons are, a season of ups and downs for a young and promising Sabercats team. Despite having five games get away from them by four runs or fewer, the Sabercats finished with a 7-24 record, which was their best total wins since 2012 and their best winning percentage since the 2000 season.
- Record: 7-24
- NCCAA Record: 6-2
- Team Awards: Katelyn Hockema and Tina Kolinski: Coach's Award; Amy Miller: Most Improved; Harmony Bailey: MVP
- AD3I All-Independents: TBA
- NCCAA All-Region: TBA
- Other: Harmony Bailey: 33 RBIs - Single-season record
After beginning the season with a promising weekend at the NCU Dome Tournament in Minnesota, the Sabercats had eight home game dates at Brandt-Quirk Park. During a four-game Parents' Day Weekend series with North Central, the Sabercats not only took four wins but did it with style. Harmony Bailey and Hannah May cemented themselves as the top sluggers for MBU, as the duo from the U.P. put up noteworthy numbers from the weekend, which were highlighted by back-to-back home runs - the first back-to-back 'dingers' in recorded program history. Bailey also capped off an outstanding weekend by earning two wins and striking out 18 batters over two games - another record for strikeouts in a two-game stretch.
May's five-homer tally and Bailey's 33-RBI total ranked second and first, respectively, in a single season.*
"I was very pleased with both Harmony and Hannah's effort, experience, and results," said head coach Rob Thompson. "As freshmen, they impacted our team tremendously on and off the field. We anticipate and look to build on their contributions for 2018. As a demonstration of her impact on the team, Harmony has been named as a co-captain for the 2018 season."
Bailey and May grabbed the headlines that weekend, but the rookie duo was just part of a well-rounded Sabercat lineup. Leadoff hitter Tina Kolinski reached first base in nearly half of her at-bats, and the quick junior stole 27 bases - the co-third-best tally in a single season. Not to be forgotten was the five wins from Brooke Campbell from in the circle (tied for third: single season), and the 26-hit, 18-steal contribution from Katelyn Hockema, who concluded a solid two-year career in the Blue & Gold.
"We had a good balance on the team," Thompson stated. "We were always fighting until the end of the game, we had the ability to bounce back after a rough defensive inning, and we had a great spirit and selflessness on the team. I also greatly appreciated our two 'volunteer' assistant coaches: former players Megan Rasmussen and Emily Thompson. They contributed to the success of the 2017 campaign in many different ways."
In terms of results, the Sabercats nabbed a six-game sweep of North Central (Minn.) on the season and stole a win off of Edgewood College - the first win over EC in five seasons. In the six games against NCU, the Sabercats averaged over 10 runs per game, as they pushed 62 runs across the plate against the Rams in the series.
The season was characterized by improvement, as the Sabercats faced the challenge of practicing in limited space until their first game, and the first time they played or practiced outside was at Alverno on March 28, when the Sabercats faced the Inferno for a two-game series. "[We struggled with] consistency," said Thompson. "Not being able to be on a field each day, and at times going a week at a time between either on-field practices or games made it difficult to remain at the top of our game."
Amidst the challenges, Thompson was pleased with the effort from the Sabercats, and with the 2017 season behind them, Thompson and the Sabercats are already looking forward to the 2018 season, as they will lose just two starters from this year. "We look to build on this year's foundation, adding some key players to the 2018 roster," Thompson noted. "The eight returning starters from 2017 will provide a solid foundation and balance. We have four young ladies already committed to MBU for the 2018 campaign that could/should impact the roster, with more players in process. We will certainly miss 'Hockey' [Katelyn Hockema] in 2018 as she will be student-teaching out of state. Her work ethic, speed, and spirit have touched and encouraged everyone on the team."
For more on the 2017 Sabercats softball team, visit their team page here.
More about MBU Athletics: The mission of the Athletic Department of Maranatha Baptist University is to develop leadership skills in the student-athlete through skilled training, godly mentoring, and intercollegiate competition.
*Only documented records are used when compiling the all-time statistics. If you find an error or omission, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with documentation of your proposed corrections.