Leaders shine despite dismal season

UND softball team struggles to clinch wins, still sees favorable statistics from underclassmen

Freshman Shelby Hard plays at Apollo Sports Complex on April 17 against Portland State. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student.

For the future of the UND softball program, there are signs of a strong group of underclassmen to lead the Green and White out of the cellar soon.

While the team’s record may not put it on top of the standings, personal statistics don’t go unnoticed.

Out of the all the statistical leaders offensively for UND, many are juniors or younger, which speaks to great volumes of progress for first year head coach Jordan Stevens.

Freshman Shelby Hard has made an impact immediately in her first season in Grand Forks. The third baseman has brought an offensive jolt to the squad, leading the team in virtually every offensive category.

Hard has already tied the school record for most home runs in a season with 13 and still has plenty of games left to break the record. Her 13 home runs also ranks second in the Big Sky Conference.

Hard also leads in other categories such as batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs batted in and total bases.

Also helping out with the freshman push is Maria Dedinger, who leads the team in doubles and ranks in the top five for batting average.

That’s not to say the freshman class has taken these categories and ran with them as there are plenty of other key players on the team who aren’t in their rookie seasons. Jackie Lilek also has had a fantastic season. The sophomore sits second in the team in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage and runs scored while also sitting third in doubles, home runs and hits.

In terms of experience, North Dakota doesn’t have to look further than junior Emily Bell. Bell currently sits in the top five for all the listed categories before, including second in home runs and runs batted in. Juniors Nicole Babrowski and Megan Keegan also both rank in the top five in multiple offensive categories.

North Dakota is still hoping to turn around its season.

The squad is still looking for win No. 1 in the conference and currently sits at the bottom in conference, having to move up four spots to make it to the conference playoffs.

However, this doesn’t cause UND to throw in the towel early as the team looks to finish strong to send a message to other teams they’ll be a threat the coming year.

“We just need to go out and play the game,” Stevens said in an interview on UND Insider. “We let a lot of things cloud what we’re doing. We started thinking too much. We let one mistake turn into two, turn into three.”

UND looks to get its first conference victory as it plays host to conference rival Sacramento State this Friday at Apollo Sports Complex.

Jack Harvey is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].