NEVADA - Nevada is hoping its performance at the plate in its softball season opener against Iowa Falls-Alden May 22 is a sign of things to come.
The Cubs collected 11 hits, pasting the Cadets by an 11-3 score.
Runs have been hard to come by for Nevada over the years. The only time in the last decade the Cubs have topped 100 runs in a season came in 2015, when they scored 132 in 27 games.
During that stretch, Nevada only hit over .270 twice, 2015 (.282) and 2014 (.271).
“I was telling the coaches in that last inning before the last out I didn’t think we’d score 11 runs in two games,” Nevada head softball coach John Bass said.
But Nevada started showing signs of becoming a quality hitting team last season. The Cubs went up from 64 runs and a .238 team batting average in 2017 — Bass’s first season — to 89 runs and a .256 average last year.
That resulted in Nevada going from 4-21 in 2017 to 9-14 last year. The noticeable upswing hit home with the returning players entering the offseason.
“We’ve worked really hard in the offseason to improve our hitting,” Bass said. “The girls are more locked in. We’re doing some different things with some sports psychology-type stuff about how to visualize and doing lots of teamwork.”
The entire team has embraced the new approach to hitting.
“We’ve had 18-20 girls coming to our offseason program on the nights that we have stuff and that’s huge,” Bass said. “We’ve been working on offense since October. Coach (Shawn) Crain has done an amazing job getting these girls ready to play.”
That was evident against Iowa Falls-Alden.
After a scoreless first inning, the Cubs started putting things together. They scored three runs on three hits in the second inning and added two more in the third and another in the fifth.
The Cubs saved their best for last, scoring five times in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away.
Nevada got production from the usual suspects.
Veteran center fielder Riley Mailey doubled and scored the game’s first run in the second inning. Addi Vorm was 3-for-4 with a double and four runs.
Sydney Mosinski gave Nevada a big boost with a home run in the bottom of the third inning.
“It was a good time to have the home run,” Mosinski said. “My team had an idea we were going to hit off of her (Cadet relief pitcher Mikayla Fjeld), so it was a good time to get a home run to hype everybody up.”
Mosinski finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Other players stepped up as well.
Libby Burlage singled in a run in Nevada’s big sixth inning. Shannon Loney had a big infield hit to set up a run in the second inning.
Madison McGaffin was the star of the night for Nevada. Hitting in the seventh spot of the batting order, McGaffin hit an RBI single in each of her first three plate appearances, and then drove in two runs on a Cadet error in the sixth.
“Tonight I just wanted to be there for my team,” McGaffin said. “I just wanted to hit it for my team so we can get those runs in.”
Trusting in her ability played a big factor in McGaffin’s performance.
“We go up to the plate knowing we’re going to get a hit,” McGaffin said. “Being more confident so we can get a hit.”
Bass said it’s nice to get that kind of production from the bottom half of the batting order.
“To have a good offensive team, we’ve got to be able to do that,” Bass said. “From the bottom to the top.”
Bass added he enjoyed seeing a player that is not used to being in the limelight step up big to start the season.
“In our cage, they were putting up portable lights so she could hit when it was still dark,” Bass said. “She’s worked so incredibly hard. It’s awesome to see that the hard work really paid off tonight.”
The Cub coach is hoping for several other players to follow McGaffin’s lead throughout the rest of the season.
“Our motto this year is ‘we is greater than me’,” Bass said. “Every single person matters. A collective whole is better than the individual.”
The strong hitting made life easy for freshman pitchers Makayla Spaid and Samantha Herridge.
Spaid was the victorious Cub hurler. She gave up one unearned run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in four innings.
“It was really nice to have my team back me up,” Spaid said. “I was really nervous, but they were all there for me. I knew if I pitched the ball, they’d make the play.”
Herridge allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits with three strikeouts and walks apiece in three innings.
Iowa Falls-Alden fell to 1-1.
Elise Osman gave up three runs with two strikeouts and one walk in two innings as the losing Cadet pitcher. Noelle Katschke homered, doubled and drove in three runs for Iowa Falls-Alden at the plate.
Nevada 11, Iowa Falls-Alden 3
IFA 100 020 0 - 3 9 2
N 032 015 X - 11 11 2
IFA: Elise Osman, Mikayla Fjeld (3) and Noelle Katschke.
N: Makayla Spaid, Samantha Herridge (5) and Gracie Barloon.
2B: IFA - Katschke. N - Addi Vorm, Riley Mailey.
HR: IFA - Katschke. N - Sydney Mosinski.