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Softball team makes home debut

The softball team played their first home games of the season last weekend.  

The Gorillas played Minnesota Duluth and Rockhurst on Saturday, Mar. 6, but lost both games (3-8, 4-7). They played Minnesota Duluth and Rockhurst again on Sunday, Mar. 6. The Gorillas lost to Duluth again (2-9) but ended the weekend with a win over Rockhurst (3-1).  

The softball team travelled to Springfield on Tuesday, Mar. 9 to battle Drury in a doubleheader and the Gorillas lost both games (0-4, 4-9).  

“As far as win-loss, it’s definitely not the way we would’ve liked things to go the last games, but we’ve had some bright spots,” Head Coach Ashley Balazs said. “(We’ve) seen the potential we have, now we just have to go put it together for a whole seven or fourteen innings.” 

Kami Zimmerman, junior in recreation and sport management, praised the team’s efforts in the weekend games.  

“The team was so pumped to be back on our home field in over 200 days,” Zimmerman said. “However, Saturday did not go how we wanted it. We played two great teams that highlighted our weaknesses. We did great things throughout the games but just couldn’t pull it all together. Sunday, we really came together as a team to pull more hits together and make more defensive plays with help from pitching.”  

According to Kaity Kukowski, master’s student in special education, the weekend games were a learning experience for the team.  

“Honestly, we didn’t pull out with the wins we wanted to… but I think we definitely made improvements in all aspects which will definitely help us when we get into conference play,” Kukowski said. “So, I think we’re excited about that.”  

In the final game against Rockhurst, Keelah Griffith made a two-run home run in the second inning. Kukowski and Paxton Hayes made two hits apiece while Kaylee Burns limited Rockhurst to four hits.  

“Taylor Lambert and Bella stepped up really big for us,” Balazs said. “Both of them… (gave) us some offensive production. So, they’re definitely doing a great job. We had Kaylee who had just an awesome start for us (in)… game two against Rockhurst…”  

The same players stood out to Zimmerman.   

“…On Saturday, Bella Konieczka and Taylor Lambert were put in to pinch hit in the… (seventh) inning of both games,” Zimmerman said. “Both of them got hits in those at bats to lead of the innings. On Sunday, they both got the chance to start. It was amazing to see them get the opportunity and show what they have been working so hard for. Then, Kaylee Burns started against Duluth on Saturday. She got pulled in the… (fourth or fifth) inning and she was frustrated. On Sunday, she started against Rockhurst and really carried the whole team on her back. She gives us so much energy on the mound and was determined to get us that win.”  

 The softball team is now 4-10 overall.   

“…Even though we didn’t come out with the outcome that we were looking for, we’re still excited to keep rolling and keep improving and get those wins later,” Kukowski said.  

Next up for Gorilla softball is a doubleheader against Emporia State on Friday, Mar. 12. The team will play at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. Following that, the Gorillas will host Washburn in another doubleheader on Saturday, Mar. 13 at noon and then 2 p.m. 

“We just need to go out and compete and be fighters and just be the team we know we can be,” Balazs said.  

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