Jacob Kittipol | Echo
The softball team's season has started with a historic streak. Coming off a victory against Mount Vernon Nazarene, the team is now 12-0 within the conference which is a school best.
"It was a close game, but that was a good thing," Head Coach Erin Kotlartz said, "We struggled a bit in the second half but we managed to pull through."
Kotlartz has only been on staff for two years. This being her first year as head coach, Kotlartz has had to overcome a few obstacles, namely the scale of having more responsibilities (scheduling games, managing expectations and etc.) The team has certainly responded to the change in dominant fashion. Moving forward, there is much to be excited about.
The team is currently sits at 19-4 overall for the season, and a good chunk of that success it seems has come from both a plethora of freshman who have embraced their roles early on and returning veterans who have stepped up in place of recently graduated seniors.
"She's been a good mix of intense and serious", junior Erin Cozad said, "I think it was really good that she was an assistant coach last year because she already knew the culture of our team. Now we understand how practices work, she understands what we need and we know what she expects."
As the team prepares to battle Indiana Wesleyan University at home on the ninth and Goshen and Marion University on the road, Kotlartz and the players maintain that there are always things to keep working on, such as keeping the pitching staff healthy and overall maintaining a mindset that the season will not always come as easy as it seemingly has.
"We've had too many people left on base and getting those runs in could be crucial for us," junior Taylor Wilson said, "A vibe I'm trying to establish this year is just being a positive light for the team. Something that I'm doing that is helping me prepare for harder opponents down the road is getting my work in whenever I can. If that means taking extra cuts or ground/fly balls, then I'll stay until no one else wants to take any more."
With a little under a month remaining in the season and tougher opponents ahead, the team must now shift the focus from the great start to possibly finishing as one of the conference's very best.
Winning makes everything better and more fun. With the team already naturally disciplined and focused, the next objective might be further capitalizing on bonding and relationship building. So, in the spirit of bonding, the team has an ongoing tally keeping track of whenever someone falls on or off the field.
"We have a lot of goofballs," Kotlartz said, "and it makes our dynamic so great and that much better."
The team's next few home games will be against IWU on April 9, Huntington University on April 19 and Bethel College on April 23.