Vanessa Kuffner, Staff Writer
The Saint softball team has taken SMU athletics to new heights after playing in the Tournament of Champions in California sweeping the competition. The women came back with a 5-1 record. The Saints were also named team of the week by the GNAC office, another big success this year for head coach Jim Peterson. As the assistant coach last season, Peterson watched the Saints get third in the GNAC. In addition, Peterson has experience with the Canadian Women’s Olympic Softball team, where they played in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games and won silver medals in the 2006 and 2009 Canada Cups.
“[Since] this is my first year being a head coach, I’ve been an assistant coach all the other stops I’ve been coaching at, so taking the opportunity to implement my style has been kind of fun. The players have seemed to have enjoyed and have really been receptive to it,” said Peterson.
Teams often take time to adjust to new coaches and their coaching styles. However, the Saints seemed to have adjusted rather quickly, as they are split evenly for wins and losses.
“Being a new coach, coming in implementing a new system, new style, new brand of philosophy the players were eager to learn that and now we are starting to play really well…we played well down in California, two girls got all tournament team, and finishing 5-1 was really when our season turned around,” he explained.
At the tournament, the Saints defeated tough rivals Azusa Pacific (2-1), Humboldt State (10-8), Chaminade University (3-2), San Francisco State (7-4), and Dominican University (8-3). Cal State San Marcos scraped by with one run in one game against the Saints, 5-6.
Once the Saints returned to Washington, their game was still strong with six wins and only two losses-an impressive return from a long week’s travel and play in California. They dominated Concordia (7-3, 2-1), and Western Washington (2-1, 3-2) winning both games against both teams. Western Oregon pulled out a win against the Saints 0-6 in the first game, but they quickly retaliated and won the next game 9-1. It was also a close game with Simon Fraser, who won the first game 7-10. Once again, the Saints came back the next game and won 6-4, an incredible performance that helped them earn team of the week.
Lindsay Miller and Lauren Maley were named to the All-Tournament team after the Tournament of Champions in California. Miller, senior pitcher and outfielder from Damascus, Ore has received other awards but this is her first time being named to All-Tournament. Miller has been playing since T-ball and has loved the game ever since. Maley, a junior pitcher from Fernadle, Wash., was also named All-Tournament team, first team.
Maley said “It’s a pretty competitive tournament, we play a lot of good California teams, so it is pretty cool to be recognized with a group of really good players.”
Miller added, “…especially for the team, going 5-1 that’s a really big feat at that tournament. There is about 20-30 Division 2 regional teams going through all the rankings, so it is pretty cool just to have tough games left and right.”
Miller and Maley both make it very clear how without their team, they wouldn’t have gotten the award. “Overall our team did really, really well, it was nice that we came out of that so positively. And the fact that the whole team got recognized really.” stated Maley, “ I mean honestly that’s the only reason we were on there was because of them,” Miller added.
With the season wrapping up, the GNAC tournament will begin on May 3, if the women make playoffs. “…the biggest thing is when we get sunshine, we get a lot of rain out here, if we get sunshine it is fun to come watch them play, it is an exciting game and the players enjoy the support out there,” stated Peterson.
Maley added excitedly, “We love fans! And we play better when we have lots of fans! It is awesome to have student support, we do really appreciate it. When you have a big crowd there is just something about home games that make you feel good. So please come out and support!”
Miller also added, “It is always fun too, because for the other team it is intimidating when you come to a school and there are so many people there watching. And even like heckling people and just friendly stuff. It just makes the atmosphere so much more fun.”