January 30, 2018
The women’s softball team’s season is just beginning, and the team has set high expectations for what they would like to accomplish in 2018, according to Ricki Rothbauer-Stubbs, head coach of the women’s softball team.
“Our kids have set some really lofty goals. We’ve worked throughout the fall to come up with what we felt like was the minimum expectation of what we should be able to do,” said Rothbauer-Stubbs, who feels that the team has a chance of placing the RMAC top three with the current defense and pitching rotation.
“There are very high expectations for our kids, and right now they are working in a way where it starts to show.”
The softball team will start their season playing a four-game series against Fort Hays State University Feb. 3 – 4 at Mountain Lion Field.
Last season, the team finished 17-28 and finished No. 10 in the RMAC, missing the playoffs. According to Rothbauer-Stibbs, injuries prevented some some of the team’s pitchers from being available to play for long periods of time.
“This year, we are coming in with four healthy pitchers. So on the offensive side, the strategy doesn’t change, but on the defensive side, we expect to be able stretch our pitchers a little bit longer and have a better idea going into each game,” said Rothbauer-Stubbs.
The team’s pitching rotation has added depth this season, according to Rothbauer-Stubbs. This has impacted the team’s strategy for the 2018 season.
“The strategy is quite a bit different because we have a bit more depth in our pitching staff. Last year, we really hit the ball comparably to the way that we did in 2016, where we had a much better overall performance,” she said.
“We actually played defense a little bit better in 2017, except for on the pitching side.”
Following the team’s tournaments, the team looks forward to the unexpected in the four-game conference series.
“The fun thing about our conference is that you play a four-game series where anything can happen in it, so you get excited to play a little bit of everybody,” said Rothbauer-Stubbs.
“There are a number of series that are always exciting. Our [Colorado State University] Pueblo series, with the trophy going back and forth between the two programs, is always fun.”
Before the 2017 season, each team had two weekends where they would compete in a pod series, when three teams compete against each other during the same weekend. Out of the 12 RMAC teams, one school will not compete. Each university is given a certain number, from one to 12, and play either the even and odd teams in alternating years
“The only team right now that we don’t play is Chadron State. We are on a two-year rotation where in the 2017 season and 2018 season, we don’t play each other. Each team in the conference has one team over those two seasons that they don’t play. Next year, we will return to a pod setup with the odd number of teams,” said Rothbauer-Stubbs.
Following this weekend’s games, the team will compete at the Dixie State Tournament on Feb. 8 – 10 in St. George, Utah.
For more information on the softball team, go to gomountainlions.com.