Softball benefits from spring weather during winter workouts

By Melanie Early, @MelanieEarlyDE

SIU softball got dirt on its cleats Monday afternoon while practicing outside, thanks to warm January temperatures.

The Salukis’ season is only three weeks away and senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen is happy to practice outside comfortably.

When the weather has not been ideal, the softball team has also been working at different facilities this winter. Baseball coach Ken Henderson has allowed the softball team to practice at Itchy Jones Stadium.

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“They’ve really built just a beautiful turf stadium over there,” associate head coach Jen Sewell said. “The artificial surface really mimics what we do on the field, so if we… can’t get on our sloppy field then [Henderson] allows us to come out.”

While there are no classes, the Salukis have had two and three-a-day practices. Weather has a lot to do with practice scheduling, but as classes start up again, so do set practice schedules.

With practice, the team hopes to improve its record and also win a Missouri Valley Conference Championship, which would be its first since 2010.

“We’ve set some very specific goals in order to obtain some bigger goals,” Sewell said. “There’s nothing that we can’t go after.”

Sewell is happy with what she has seen from the team so far.

“Overall we like what we’ve done,” Sewell said. “The pitchers are ready, the hitters are getting there and defense looks good and we’ve had five quality days outside.”

Last year, the Salukis ended their season with a 28-25 record.

Bertelsen led the team in wins, appearances, starts, complete games, saves and innings pitched last spring. Bertelsen said hard work and dedication will be a key factor in earning an MVC title.

“It’s going to have to take everybody that we have on our team,” Bertelsen said. “We all push each other because we all want the same thing.”

Senior pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich, who posted 13 appearances and six starts last season, has faith in her teammates’ hard work this year.

“We’ve recently developed a slogan that we’ve been working on,” Wunderlich said. “It’s called, ‘win today’ and I really like that because it kind of breaks down our overall goal into something smaller.”

The Salukis start their season Feb. 6 against Ohio State in Charleston, S.C., at the Charleston Southern Tournament.

Melanie Early can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext.  269

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