By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
After dropping the first game of a doubleheader 3-0 to North Dakota at the Great West Conference Cluster on March 25, UNO head softball coach Jeanne Scarpello had had enough. It was the second time the Mavs had been shut out on the weekend and UNO had scored just 11 runs in five games.
“I finally ended up saying at the North Dakota game, I kind of had enough because we weren’t swinging the bats like I felt like we should have,” Scarpello said. “I felt like we were tentative, you could see that. We ended up discussing [that] I’m done coaching the swing. We ended up letting them adjust their own swings, which, they’re smart enough players to do that.”
Scarpello’s patience began to be rewarded the very next game when the Mavs hit .321 and scored four runs. UNO dropped the second game to North Dakota 6-4, but it appeared the Mavs had started to turn a corner.
“The last game against North Dakota when we were down at the Great West, we had nine hits. We had some very good outs that were barrels, we call them,” Scarpello said. “I think it’s a confidence thing. You start having some slumps, you start questioning yourself, [you think] what are you doing wrong? You need to go back to see the ball, hit the ball and have the attitude that I’m just gonna rip it down someone’s throat.”
Last Wednesday when UNO was finally able to open their new home at Westside Field at Westbrook, the Mavs ripped UNK for 15 runs and won a doubleheader against the Lopers by scores of 8-0 and 7-3. The offense averaged .380 at the plate, hit five home runs and left just eight runners on base.
“For our players…it was time for them to stop thinking at the plate and just swing the bat hard,” Scarpello said. “They kind of had fun with the game, relaxed, free swinging. If the pitch is there, just drive it.”
Sophomore catcher Amber Lutmer had three of UNO’s five home runs, went 4-for-5 from the plate and drove in 6 runs. Senior Katelyn Hinton and freshman Mara Eeman each had a home run as well.
The Mavs’ five home runs were as many as the team had up to that point in the season. Wins were picked up by Dana Elsasser (8-6) and Kat Barrow (5-4). The pair limited UNK to .136 hitting, allowed just one earned run and struck out seven while walking just two.
Elsasser picked up her first save of the year in Barrow’s 7-3 win in the second game. In game one the Mavs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the third and ended the game early in the top of the fifth after going up 8-0 in the fourth.
In the second game, errors were almost UNO’s undoing but the long ball provided some relief. Lutmer had two of her three home runs in game two, and Hinton and Eeman’s homers came in game two as well.
In the fifth the Mavs were up 4-3 but two of the Lopers’ three runs had been unearned. In the top of the inning UNK had two runners on with no outs when Elsasser was brought in.
Elsasser induced two ground balls and a lineout to get out of the inning and keep the score at 4-3. Hinton and Lutmer had back-to-back homeruns in the bottom of inning to make the final score 7-3.
Hinton’s blast was a two-run shot with Lauren Larson on base, then Lutmer added her third of the day with a solo blast.