Guest Writer: Zac Tallent
The AU softball team is 11-9 this year with more than half of their season still to come. The team is in its thirteenth year under head coach Tony Holloway and is looking to win their third HCAC championship, the right to play in their third NCAA tournament and compete for a national championship.
The team had the opportunity to go to Florida over spring break and went 6-2 to start off their season. The Ravens are led by starting pitcher Hadley Decker.
Decker was named National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division-III Player of the Week earlier this season. She is coming off of a back injury from last season but is fully healthy this season and has a 4-3 record on the year with two saves.
Holloway likes what he has seen so far but still believes the team has room to improve as they embark on the second half of their season.
“We need to hit more consistently,” said Holloway. “We won a game in extra innings with a score 2-1 against St. Mary’s College but only had four hits. It’s no surprise, but having Hadley Decker back for us this year is huge. She is throwing really well. Aimee Cook is also 3-0 for us. We weren’t really sure what her role would be, but picking up a big win against Transylvania was good for our team.”
Cook, a freshman from Anderson, is playing well for the Ravens with a 2.77 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. The pitching has been solid all year long for the team; however, they still need more consistency from their offense if they wish to make a run at the HCAC title.
Despite some struggles, several Ravens have had great years at the plate. Juniors D.J. Martz and Tara Morey have had great seasons, each holding batting averages above .350.
“This year we are working well together,” Morey said about the difference between last year and this year. “At times last year we struggled to connect, but this year the team is really clicking.”
Chemistry is not an issue for the Ravens this season. The team is having a lot more fun than they did a season ago, according to Cook. But the team holds just a 3-5 record inside the conference, currently only good enough for seventh place.
“We need to get back into playoff contention,” added Holloway. “Last year we had a lot of injuries, and this year we are healthy and need to play like every conference game is one game away from us whether we make the conference tournament or not.”
The HCAC has about seven or eight teams that could squeeze into the five spots available for the conference tournament, so every game could have a major impact on the standings. The Ravens will need to continue to build off of their early success and win some key conference games if they wish to return to the postseason, after missing out last year.
They will host conference leading Mount St. Joseph this afternoon for a double header before taking a week long break from HCAC play.