New goals on deck for UND softball

North Dakota aims to post successful season after dismal year with guidance from seniors and coaches

North Dakota senior Catherine Dorsher hits the ball last season at Apollo Field in Grand Forks. This year, the Grand Forks native is one of two seniors on the team. File photo.

The UND women’s softball team walked off the field on a Saturday afternoon after giving up 21 runs — spiraling further into a season that would dissolve to a 6-39 record.

Another loss.

“It was awful,” senior Catherine Dorsher said. “It was one of those things where it just snowballs, especially last year. We were down and it was rough.”

Dorsher witnessed the 2013-14 season follow much the same trend as her first two years. But the Grand Forks native is beginning her last year in a North Dakota jersey with hopes and expectations that far exceed statistics from last Spring.

UND has welcomed new head coach Jordan Stevens and assistant coaches Shelly Prochaska and Allison Kutz to help lead the team to new heights.

“The thing I’m most looking forward to is winning a Big Sky championship,” Dorsher said. “Coach Stevens and the team definitely believe we’re going to get there. I’m most excited for getting to that point and coming back from years past — showing we can make it there and we will. So that’s exciting for us.”

Training during the offseason consists of nearly eight hours each week, but with a fall game schedule in full swing until October to prepare for upcoming spring games, the team is practicing five days per week, just shy of 20 hours.

North Dakota had planned to host Mayville State this weekend at Apollo Field, but rain and lightning put the tarp over the field instead.

A series in Vermillion, S.D. against South Dakota this weekend will give the team a better idea of the chemistry Dorsher already sees in the group.

“So far, I think we’re all getting along great,” Dorsher said “We’re getting used to how (the coaching staff) runs things and what they expect from us. But I think so far, we have accomplished getting along and adjusting to new philosophies and ideas, so it’s been great.”

As one of two seniors on this year’s roster, Dorsher joins Taylor Donnelley in stepping into a veteran role much different than what she recalls from fall 2011.

“I remember being really nervous. A lot,” she said. “It’s a whole different ballgame from when I was in high school. Making the adjustment to college as a whole was a huge obstacle.”

It was an obstacle she was determined to climb over.

Dorsher spent time on the fields adjacent to Apollo Field, practicing with her Red River High School team. It wasn’t uncommon to find her in the stands before practice, watching the North Dakota team she hoped to one day be a part of.

“Of course, I made it my goal,” Dorsher said. “I was going to do anything I possibly could to get on that field. I knew I was coming to coming to UND and I loved softball, and thought ‘I just need to be here.’”

And she was. When former head coach Eric Oakley joined the North Dakota staff, Dorsher was in contact with him and sent her statistics before being offered a walk-on spot on the team.

“I love Grand Forks, granted it’s practically all I know,” Dorsher said. “Nothing brings me more pride than playing the sport I love in the city I love — that I’ve grown up in. It’s great to have the community support that comes along with it.”

Far from the time she stepped onto the field at age 4, or when she ran the opposite way to third base instead of first in her early years, she’s now concentrating on pursuing a graphic design degree and balancing her role on the softball team.

“I feel like we’re all on the same page and thinking, ‘Yes, this is where we need to be,’” she said. “I’m so excited for where this year is going to take us.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the Sports Editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].