The Minnesota Duluth softball team will honor its 2020 and ’21 seniors on Saturday — before and between games of a highly-anticipated Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference home doubleheader against defending NCAA Division II national champion and second-ranked Augustana University.
The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at historic James S. Malosky Stadium.
“We can’t wait to celebrate with our graduating seniors,” Bulldogs coach Jen Walter said on Wednesday afternoon.
Seniors from the 2020 team scheduled to appear for the pre-doubleheader ceremony include OF Lauren Greeder, OF Jayme Langbehn, C Hannah Bloch, P Breanna Swint and SS Lauren Oberle, a fifth-year player still with the team.
Other current seniors to be recognized between games are second baseman Taylor Koehnen and catcher Jessica Bren.
Senior first baseman Jordyn Thomas, who currently leads the team in batting average (.468), RBIs (19) and home runs (six), will return for a fifth year next season, Walter said.
UMD, 12-4 overall and 2-0 in the NSIC following a pair of 6-3 victories at St. Cloud State on Tuesday, will open its 2021 home season Friday against Wayne State in a conference doubleheader.
Walter on the 2021 seniors:
Koehnen: “TK has been our starting second baseman for the last three years. She is a phenomenal defensive player who has been a very solid hitter, hitting from the leadoff spot to ninth. She’s a very consistent player, a strong leader, and follows in the footsteps on Nat Wright, a former All-American who graduated in 2018.”
Oberle, a five-year starter who is hitting .440: “She was my first recruit when I was hired in 2015. She was an excellent high school shortstop at Eden Prairie, pretty much started every game at third base in her freshman season and has been our starting shortstop since her junior year. She likely has the best softball sense of any player I’ve coached and is a phenomenal hitter who has 35 homers in her career while batting leadoff.”
Bren: “She set a single-season record with 16 home runs in her freshman season. She is arguably our best athlete, who primarily starts behind the plate and can play in the infield or outfield. If you ask her she would probably tell you that she can pitch, which won’t happen. She makes us better when she is behind the plate, where she has a really good arm, manages our pitchers well and calls a good game. Offensively, she can do a lot of damage with one swing and can steal us a base.”
Only four of UMD’s 17 players who traveled to St. Cloud State for Tuesday’s doubleheader had previous NSIC experience. “It was a NSIC series first for our 11 freshmen and the sophomores who lost last season due to COVID,” said Walter.
. Walter on Wayne State: “Every series is obviously important, with the NSIC being as strong as it is. You can’t coast through a doubleheader. Wayne has turned over its roster and when you play a team like them, we have to play our game with good pitching and good defense. If we play our game, pitch and hit the ball, we should be successful.”
. Walter on Augustana: “We’ll have to pitch well, and probably will run a couple freshmen pitchers and a sophomore at them. We can’t give up any unearned runs, and will need to play good defense and score some runs.”
. Walter on playing on the plush turf at Malosky: “Our players prefer to play at Malosky, more than the coach. We’re excited to finally be playing at home.”