By Alyson Kehn

The University of Wisconsin–Stout women’s softball team is gearing up for the season ahead with optimism and a strong team. Head coach Christine Stainer, who is in her 16th year of coaching, has nothing but positive things to say about her team this season. She commented that she is most looking forward to seeing the team grow, since many of the players are young this year.

“We have great leadership in our upperclassmen, and we also have a large number of talented underclassmen,” she said. “Even during our spring training trip, we saw huge strides forward against nationally ranked competition.”

One of the team’s goals for this season is to finish in the top three places of the WIAC conference. This is a big goal because the WIAC is one of the top-ranked conferences in the nation for women’s softball.

Junior shortstop and captain Lynzi Knudtson said, “We are young, but hardworking, and a very talented team. We are going to be very competitive in the WIAC. Another goal is to go to the College World Series, but the team is first focused on doing well in the conference.”

Coach Stainer expects her athletes to be working hard this season and to perfect their skills as a strategy to come out on top.

“As a coach, I expect my players to continue to work extremely hard. My players have great work ethics, and I know that if we don’t meet our goals, it’s not due to lack of effort. The competition is so fierce that teams have to play errorless ball, capitalize on runners on base and pitchers have to throw smart to win this conference. I definitely think the potential to do all three is there. It’s about bringing all facets of the games together by the middle and end of the season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Knudtson said that although it can be a challenge working with a young team, the team is really pulling together to be the best they can be. The older team members are mentoring the younger ones. She expressed that the team as a whole has a lot of talent this year.

The team traveled to Florida—a trip they paid for through fundraising—over spring break. The 10 games they played in Florida were taken very seriously since these games are extremely important for end-of-the-year rankings. The players focused on showing off their conditioning and skills training during the off-season. The team has been training hard for the past six months to prepare for the season, starting with this tournament. It was mostly work and no play for these dedicated athletes, but they got a day to spend however they liked as well as a day at the beach as a reward for their dedication and focus during practices and games.

Off to a 10-6 start (including going 7-3 in Florida), UW–Stout will be playing four games at the Augustana College tournament on March 29 and 30.  Later in the week, they will be hosting the University of Northwestern of St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday, April 2 at the Alumni Field. Go Blue Devils, and good luck to these hardworking women on their upcoming season!

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