Mesa softball team overcomes early season struggles to host RMAC tournament
Jessica Severinsen and the Colorado Mesa softball team believed they could win the RMAC regular-season title and host the conference tournament. They never imagined the journey they’d have to take to arrive at this spot.
“We had a lot of things disrupt us, but as a team we’ve come together and do what we need to get it done on the field and somehow get first place,” Severinsen said.
CMU hosts the conference tournament, which begins at 8:30 this morning at Bergman Field. The top-seeded Mavericks play No. 8 Fort Lewis at 3:15 this afternoon. Saturday’s championship game is at 2:15 p.m.
The Mavericks (27-19) were the RMAC preseason favorites, but they lost eight of their first 10 games.
“We had a rough start,” CMU coach Candace Abrams said. “I think a little bit had to do with weather and not being able to get out on the field and get team defense in. It plays a huge role while you’re trying to jell together as a team. It took us a little while to find a niche, but once it did, everything started falling into place.”
It took finding the right positions and places in the batting order around Severinsen and Makayla Kovac.
“We had a lot of mix-match, finding spots,” Abrams said. “I think it was a combination of everyone finding a clicking moment and going with it. We had our consistencies with Jess and Makayla. Everybody else fell into place.”
The Mavericks have been very successful this season when they hit.
Colorado Mesa is 23-4 when it out-hits its opponent this season. The Mavericks are 20-6 when they score first and 21-5 when they score six or more runs.
“It’s frustrating sometimes,” Severinsen said. “That first game we never hit. I don’t know what it is. We get like three hits then the next game, it’s bam! The bats come.’”
Opposing pitchers would often attempt to pitch around Severinsen, who is hitting .429 with 16 home runs. She also missed one weekend series with a concussion.
“I feel like my body’s falling apart this year,” she said. “It’s kind of scary getting back on the field again when you get a ball in your face. It really does affect you.”
Mesa won 12 of 13 games after the bad start and moved into first place in the RMAC. Since then, the Mavs have bounced in and out of first place. The Mavericks were in third place entering the final weekend of play, but won three of four against Colorado Christian and won the regular-season title when Metro State beat CSU-Pueblo in the final game of the season.
This was Mesa’s fourth RMAC regular-season title.
Colorado Mesa was 17-1 against RMAC teams that didn’t make the RMAC tournament and 9-11 against teams in the RMAC field.
“Things worked out,” Severinsen said. “It’s been a good year overall. A lot of up and down, but it’s been a good year.”
Six different teams sat in first place through the course of the season.
“I don’t think a lot of people expected it to end the way it did,” Abrams said. “That’s the fun part, when you have such good teams. The top five, eight really, that are that good, it’s anybody’s ballgame when it comes down to the wire.”
Chadron State was in first place at one point on the final weekend. The Eagles (27-21) finished tied for second and received their highest seed for the RMAC tournament — third.
“Chadron has a couple kids that can swing the bat,” Abrams said. “They’ve got Kylee (Polsley) on the mound. She’s done a great job of keeping hitters very off balance compared to what she did last year. It’s good to see a senior change her game and go out with a bang.”
With the top eight teams finishing within seven games of each other, anyone is capable of winning the RMAC tournament and receiving an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II tournament.
“I think the key for any team is going to be consistency at the plate, timely hitting and keeping things off balance with pitching,” Abrams said. “The team who keeps the errors to a minimum will keep moving one step farther, one step closer.
“I think it’s pretty even across the board with these teams. It will be exciting to see who gets hot at the right moment. There is going to be some great softball this weekend for sure.”