Softball starts on a win

Freshman hits homers in each of first three games


Freshman Kate Nelson throws a pitch in a home game against Zion-Benton on March 20. Nelson had nine strikeouts in the game, and she is one of seven freshman on the team. Photo by Kate Leverenz

Stepping up to bat at the first softball game of the season against Zion-Benton on March 20, freshman Molly McAnally did not think she would get another good pitch after hitting a triple earlier that game.

“They kept giving me outside changeups which I didn’t swing at, and then when I [had] a 3-1 count, they gave me an inside pitch, and then I just drove it, and it wasa home run,” McAnally said.

According to head coach Bridget Matsunaga, the game was pretty windy, and she did not anticipate any balls going over the fence for a home run. 

“Not many freshmen come up to varsity and hit home runs, let alone in their first game,” said Matsunaga. “We’re really excited to see what’s in store for Molly in the future.”

The score was 0-0 during the first three innings. At the bottom of the fourth inning, freshman Sophia Gochis laid down a bunt that sent McAnally from first to third base, eventually leading to a run by sophomore Gabby Velez.  

“I think that changed the energy and just gave us hope that we were able to hit against that pitcher,” Matsunaga said.

Following that play, the team scored 10 more runs and won 11-1. 

In addition to her home run, McAnally hit a single and a triple. Junior Izzy Gott hit a double, single and was walked three times. 

“I have four pitchers right now, and they’ve all really impressed me because they’re only freshmen and sophomores,” said Matsunaga. “To be throwing as hard as they are, in the upper 40s, low 50s, at that age, is pretty good.”

Freshman Kate Nelson pitched nine strikeouts, an impressive feat for a freshman, Matsunaga said.

“We have a lot of flexibility and versatility in our players, meaning they can play multiple positions,” said Matsunaga. “This is one of the first years that I felt comfortable putting players in different positions that aren’t usually their first primary position.”

There are 11 underclassmen on the team this year, seven freshmen and four sophomores.

“[The freshmen are not] used to our field yet, so we’re working on getting used to the dirt and how [the ball] bounces on our field and how the [outfield] is,” Gott said.

As of April 5, the team (2-5, 0-0) is led by Gott with 2 RBIs and a batting average of 0.294. Nelson has 22 strikeouts in 26 innings.

“I think this is a team who has a lot of potential, and I think [winning regionals is] definitely a goal that we can accomplish this year because we came out really strong in the beginning,” Matsunaga said.

McAnally has hit three home runs and has a batting average of 0.455.

“I definitely think that my No. 1 goal would be to make it out of regionals which, I know our team hasn’t done in a bunch of years,” McAnally said.