Softball bounces back in Utah

Photo Courtesy of Omaha Softball

Joe Franco

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s softball squad hasn’t exactly had bragging rights thus far into the 2017 season. The girls’ season entails their first 29 games to be on the road away from Omaha, and they have been struggling away from the comfort of their own field. Where did they go for their most recent road trip? St. George, Utah.

The season is already a month in and the young and old players are slowly starting to click together. After dropping four of its first five games on the year, and in their last two matchups as well, UNO is perhaps on the right track to put the pieces together for a successful season.

Omaha’s most recent adventure on the road came against Montana, Utah State, Southern Utah, and No. 16 Utah on Friday and Saturday. The team won three of those four matchups, including a 5-1 win over a nationally ranked Utah in their own backyard.

The Mavs’ offense this season is being fueled by junior outfielder Kelly Pattison and senior outfielder Lia Mancuso. Pattison, who was dubbed Summit League Player of the Week on Feb. 19, is second in the conference in batting average at .400. The junior is also leading UNO with three home runs and eight RBI’s on the year. As for Mancuso, she is the senior leader who has stepped up even in games that were disappointing losses. The senior is third in the conference in stolen bases and is second on the team behind Pattison for best batting average.

The first day of the visit was a promising sign of a good momentum shift into the season. The girls defeated Montana 9-5 in their first game, but were shutout in the second one of the day by Utah State, 3-0.

Senior infielder Nicole Warren was a big factor in the Mavs’ win against the Griz. The Omaha native contributed an RBI and a run for herself after going 2-for-3 at the dish. Sophomore right-handed Laura Roceker earned the ‘W’ after shutting out the Griz on just two hits allowed.

The second game on Friday was engulfed with both a dull offense and poor effort from the team. Omaha only earned three hits throughout the showdown and were shutout by the Aggies.

On to Saturday, the Mavs put together an offensive display that might just reassure any doubt fans had in their minds. The first game of the series was a blowout courtesy of the Omaha offense, as the Mavs punished Southern Utah in a 11-0 win in five innings.

Senior outfielders Lizzie Noble and Mancuso were a big reason UNO was able to put up so many runs.

Noble went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI and two touches of the plate on her own. Mancuso also connected three times at the plate and scored three runs. Roecker picked up another win on the season in her three innings pitched to put her record at 4-4 on the year.

The final game on Saturday consisted of more a strategic win over the No. 16 ranked Utah Utes.

Noble continued her offensive hot-streak into the second game of the day, where she went 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs on top of that. Warren and Mancuso each drove in a run for the Mavericks to build some insurance. Who got the win on the mound for Omaha? You guessed it– Roecker, for her fifth on the year.

Omaha will take their next out-of-state competition to Norman, Oklahoma this weekend, where they will face Illinois-Chicago twice, and the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in their own backyard. With a promising win streak as of late, the softball squad may be turning a new leaf; a winning leaf. Though the road trip has definitely taken its toll on the girls, snagging a win against the best team in the country on their own field could jolt the Mavs into the right direction for the rest of the year.