Softball struggles to start the season

Pitcher Taylor Hansen pitches in a game last season. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student. 

Kaylin VanDomelen and Taylor Hansen’s Big Sky awards, along wit a five-game win streak highlight a 10-21 season. 

With just more than 30 games played and their first conference series in the books, first year UND coach Jordan Stevens and his squad have faced a fair share of shortcomings. On the season thus far, the team stands 10-21 overall and has dropped all three conference games against Sacramento State.

Looking forward at the remaining games, adjustments must be made on the defensive end in order to stay in contention in the Big Sky Conference.

The season has not been a complete tragedy though as the team has been able to set records and claim accolades as well. After failing to win a single game in the USF Under Armour Invitational, UND triumphed the following weekend and claimed five consecutive wins at the Santa Clara Invitational. This is the program’s best winning streak since moving to Division I in 2012.

The winning streak caught attention in the Big Sky Conference and both player and pitcher of the week were awarded to UND players.

Sophomore Kaylin VanDomelen went 3-0 in three complete games, struck out 24 opposing batters, only allowed two earned runs and collected a 0.67 ERA over the course of 21 innings.

Michigan native Taylor Hansen was able to win Big Sky Player of the Week after hitting for a .471 batting average during the winning streak with seven RBIs and two doubles. She also recorded a career-high four RBI outing in the 4-2 win over Iona. Overall, she holds a .333 batting average and leads the team with 14 RBIs.

VanDomelen’s and Hansen’s awards were even more special for the UND softball program. The Big Sky Pitcher of the Week honor is the first ever for the program, while the Player of the Week honor is the second in program history.

These awards are that much more special for UND as VanDomelen is the first pitcher in school history to win that award, while Hansen is the second player at UND to win her respective honor.

Looking back at the beginning of the year, the team instilled confidence in their ability to play offensive softball.

“We can all hit the ball, that’s what our plan of attack is,” senior Megan Keegan said. “Hit the ball and make them defend what we put out there.”

While this has been the case for some crucial wins, the Fighting Hawks have been kept off the board six times this season, while also losing an additional six to the eight-run rule.

One of those shutouts came from the first conference weekend against Sacramento State, who swept UND. Since moving to Division I, UND has yet to claim a win against a stout Sacramento State team. The Hornets rank No. 3 in the preseason polls and are currently tied with Montana for first in the Big Sky.

At 10-21, the Fighting Hawks are currently tied for last place with Northern Colorado.

Though the opening of the season has been rough, the Fighting Hawks will be looking forward to a home-field advantage.

UND opens its first home series of the weekend against Idaho State. The Hawks will play a doubleheader today starting at 2 p.m., with game two starting at 4 p.m. The two teams will then finish off the series at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks.

Allyson Bento is a sports writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]