The Lady Lions softball team has started the spring season winning the Lion Classic II, bringing them to a 7-1 overall record.
SLU hosts the conference on the home turf at North Oak Park welcomed opponents Belmont University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Nebraska Omaha and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The program starts of the season with a tournament win as they progress into conference, after the Lion Classic I cancellation due to rain. One of Head Coach Rick Fremin’s goals for the team last season was to improve overall running and base stealing.
“I think their endurance is there, so I think we’re stealing about roughly an average of four stolen bases a game if I’m not mistaken,” said Fremin. “I haven’t looked at the stats as of today. The speed aspect of it is there. So I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”
The tournament’s first game on Friday, Feb. 16 against Omaha saw the Lady Lions win 4-1 against the number one seed in the conference.
Head Coach Rick Fremin said,
“Our goal is to stay aggressive to dominate our opponent, regardless of who we play,” said Fremin. “To compete for a conference championship as well as the conference tournament championship also.”
The Lady Lions defended against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a shutout of 6-0. Pitcher Rachel Hayes described her excitement of being a starter during the Lion Classic II.
“I was happy to have pitched two games and have only one run score in both games,” said Hayes. “Also in the game against Detroit, I had a two-hitter, but I couldn’t have done that without my defense giving it their all on the field and playing behind me. Also, our offense doing their job which makes my job a lot easier.”
Fremin hopes the team can take their confidence and wins on the road.
“We’re really good at home,” said Fremin. “We handle our business, we do what we need to do, and we just need to learn to take that mindset on the road and try to regard where we’re playing at as home.”
Belmont, the opponent on Feb. 17, put up a fight with a close game of 6-5. Fremin credited the team’s ability to adjust to the program quickly as a factor to their efficient success.
“I’m going into year three,” said Fremin. “So the players are very comfortable with the system and the things we’re asking them to do. We also had brought in quite a few transfers along with some incoming freshmen. So a lot of those players have adapted very quickly. It has led to some early success just with everyone being on the same page. I’m pleased with where we are now as a ball club.”
The Lady Lions faced off against Omaha for the second time but ended up losing this time 11-9. Senior infielder Mahalia Gibson expressed her thoughts on her team’s performance against Omaha on the third day of the Lion Classic II.
“They played with a lot of heart,” said Gibson. “We all agreed that’s something we can take from them and build off of for the rest of the season. Yes, the loss hurt, but the game has no knowledge of what happens, so we learn from it and move on.”
The team’s final opponent of the tournament, Detroit, was another close game of 2-1. Fremin explained his thoughts on the final day of the conference.
“I thought we did what we had to do to win,” said Fremin. “Rachel Hayes, on her birthday, hit a circle, did a phenomenal job with throwing a two-hitter. We let a few people on base. That would be the only downfall from our offense standpoint, but we played great defense. We turned several double plays to get out of the inning, and I was very pleased with the overall performance, especially after a tough, hard loss late last night at the nightcap game. So, a good start to our season at 7-1, especially because it’s never been done before in the program’s history, and we’ll just take it one gamer at a time.”
Gibson said every moment is memorable for her.
“Since it’s my last year, my goal is to embrace every second I have with these girls.”
2017 recruit Ella Manzer explained how the unity and drive of the team will be able to push them far this season.
“We push each other every day at practice and in the weight room it doesn’t matter if someone is a freshman or a senior everyone is held to a specific standard,” said Manzer. “Everyone can be counted on throughout the game to be called off the bench and to produce. Whether it is on the field or at the plate, we run the bases well as a team and are very aggressive. We just want to play wide open and compete with anyone who will step into the field with us.”
Fremin discussed the team’s next competition that is fast approaching, and the unique setting they will be playing at.
“We have a short turnaround,” said Fremin. “We have a day rest then we’re on a bus to go play. They are an extremely tough road opponent, and then we’re gonna play UL tournament Thursday night. We’re playing UL, and they always have a great atmosphere. 2,000 people will be in the stands. Players will get to experience that, and then that will continue with games on Friday and Saturday.”