The UND women’s softball team started the fall season strong with a win over Minnesota State University-Moorhead 15-0 Sunday afternoon in the UND Invitational at Apollo Field.
The team’s new freshman have shown impressive raw talent, and the returning players look polished and in good form.
“In the fall, especially with so many freshmen, we just want to see everyone play,” UND coach Eric Oakley said in a press release.
And it was clear he was giving them all a chance in this game. The starting lineup featured four freshman, all of which did not appear to let the nerves affect their play.
Freshman pitcher Kaylin VanDomelen started the game off well by striking out the first three consecutive batters in the top of the first inning — a notable act for a young pitcher’s first time on the big stage. The team backed up VanDomelen by scoring four runs in the first inning, with two of the four runs coming from a home run hit far beyond the centerfield fence were delivered by sophomore Emily Bell.
The second inning paralleled the first, with VanDomelen shutting down Moorhead’s next three batters and UND putting four more runs up on the scoreboard, making it 8-0 — once again a home run drove in two runs. This time it was Amanda Johnson sending the ball over the left field fence.
In the third inning, the UND infielders were spot on. Ground balls to the pitcher, second baseman and shortstop were all fielded cleanly to make three outs of the inning. The Moorhead pitcher struggled to find the strike zone, walking two batters and letting up two more runs, making the UND lead an astounding 10-0 in only the third inning.
VanDomelen put two more strikeouts in the book in the fouth inning. Moorhead went down swinging and was fooled by VanDomelen’s change ball and curve ball. Her use of off-speed pitches kept the opposing players off balance at the plate and unable to make solid contact with the ball. Five singles and five more runs were scored by UND’s offense in the bottom of the 4th inning, making the score 15-0.
UND’s big lead in the fifth inning called for some lineup changes, including a pitching change. Megan Hedstrom followed in VanDomelen’s lead, by also retiring the first three batters she faced in the inning, including one strikeout.
National Collegiate Athletic Association instituted a mercy rule in softball, to prevent teams from being blown out to dramatic extents. The rule states that if a team is winning by 15 runs or more at anytime after the fifth inning, the game is over and the leading team wins. Therefore, this game fell under those circumstances and UND won the game two innings early under the mercy rule.
Oakley used this game as a time to determine the team’s strength and weaknesses before starting conditioning for the spring season. Although he feels the most important thing about these fall season games is not whether the team wins or loses.
“Overall, what I think we get most out of the fall is a gauge of team chemistry and what it will take to get our freshmen ready for the spring”, Oakley said.
However, a 15-0 win never hurts a team’s morale, which will be helpful with the biggest date on the fall schedule is coming up when North Dakota State comes to Grand Forks for a double header on September 14. NDSU is the only Division I opponent the team will face this fall, and it will be the best look at the level of competition they will face this coming spring.
Allison Moore is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]