TC softball looking for respect

Bolstered by five all-conference players, the Tabor College women’s softball team hopes to improve on last season’s seventh-place finish in the KCAC, according to second-year coach Donovan Nelson.

“They’re ready to play,” Nelson said. “In a sense, they’re tired of things. I think that’s crucial for us. I’m so ready to play, there’s only so many ground balls and pitching off the machine that a team can take.

“Our girls are in a great position to continually improve at this point. Great softball teams are great because of the players they recruit. We’re trying to use the talent we have to benefit our whole.”

The Bluejays return two All-KCAC players from last year’s team: Misty Collins and Shelby Griffith.

Collins, a junior third baseman, was a unanimous all-conference pick and an All-Region 4 pick, who batted .451 last year.

Nelson said Collins will be a key part of the Bluejays’ success this season.

“Misty’s greatest asset is that she goes up there with the trust of her swing and attacks the ball as it comes to her,” Nelson said. “She puts the ball in play and does her best to get on base.”

Griffith, also a junior, was named to the All-KCAC First Team at second base.

“I see both players leading us in a sense,” Nelson said.

First baseman Iva Werth also was named to the All-KCAC team last season, as were Jennie Evert and Holly Ross as a pitcher and short stop, respectively.

Nelson isn’t astonished by the amount of talent that his team possesses.

“Most of the people don’t know we’re around,” Nelson said. “In a sense, these girls are pioneers, trying to make the sport more noticed. We want to expand the awareness of softball at Tabor, since it’s been around for 23 years.”

With seven juniors and four sophomores on the roster, Nelson said he believes Tabor’s opportunities lie with the Bluejay offense.

“Offensively, being patient is crucial,” Nelson said. “If our kids don’t get anxious and they really are patient, we have a great chance of putting nine or 10 runs on the board.

“Our main approach will be an offensive attack-putting the ball on the ground and utilizing our speed.”

Pitching is a concern for Nelson.

“Our greatest weakness is our pitching staff,” Nelson said. “Their consistency is crucial to our success.”

Saint Mary College appears to be the front-runner in the race for the KCAC crown, Donovan said.

“Saint Mary is the team to beat,” he said. “Ironically, we played them a 12-11 ball game in eight innings and a 4-2 ball game-that was the team that won the conference championship, and we lost by three runs combined. We just weren’t that far off.”

Nelson said he and his team remain realistic about the upcoming season.

“We set a goal to finish in the top half of the conference,” Nelson said. “A conference championship just isn’t realistic, but we will get better.”

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