Mavs’ shortstop showing her power

Lauren Cross tips the ball during her turn at the plate during a Mesa State softball practice.

It took Lauren Cross a little while to surpass her home run total of last season.
Four games.

Cross, a sophomore shortstop for the Mesa State College softball team, played at the University of Missouri-Kansas City last season. In 38 games, Cross hit one home run, one-tenth of her team’s total for the season.

The Mavericks are halfway to that mark after six games, and Cross has four of Mesa State’s five home runs.

She didn’t go deep in either of the first two games, but led off the fifth inning of the third game with a home run in a 9-3 win over the University of Mary.

Each game after that, she circled the bases.

And she wasn’t even expected to be in the starting lineup.

With Katie Mitchell out with an elbow injury, Cross was called upon, and she jumped at the chance.

“I heard Katie couldn’t play and it was a bittersweet moment,” Cross said. “We need Katie, but this is my chance. It was good and bad.

“Being in her shadow, I’ve learned a lot, but I was like, ‘This is my chance. I have to do what I can and prove I can do this.’ That was my chance, and I ended up doing decent.”

Decent? Let’s take a look at her numbers from the RMAC-Northern Sun Crossover Tournament last weekend:

• 10 for 18 at the plate, a .556 average

• Three doubles

•  10 runs scored

•  9 RBI

•  At least one hit in every game, three multiple-hit games

•  Four home runs, one in each of the Mavs’ final four games of the tournament

•  A 1.398 slugging percentage

Those numbers added up to a spot on the all-tournament team and being selected the RMAC player of the week.

Not bad for someone who was hoping to land a spot as a walk-on after deciding UMKC wasn’t for her.

“Last year being a freshman, I had a ton of pressure on me. I wanted to do well for my school,” she said.

“Toward the end of the season I started thinking, ‘I have to do this for me. It’s just a game. I can’t count on anybody else.’ ’’

Cross left the Kangaroos, who went 8-31, and came back to Colorado. The Mountain Vista High School product ventured across the mountains to Mesa State.

“I didn’t have any expectations,” she said. “I was just going to walk on the team. I came here thinking, I’ll try out and see. I wanted to play softball, but I wasn’t able to talk to Coach (Kris)
Mort because I wasn’t released yet. I was able to talk to her on my orientation day and she said she had a little money left and I got that.

“I wasn’t looking for anything. It worked out.”

Cross leads the Mavericks (4-2) in hitting entering RMAC play this weekend at Metro State (5-1).

“I feel a lot of pressure now,” she said, laughing. “Now everybody expects me to do that.”

It’s also helped Cross that the Mavericks have hitting up and down the lineup, with a .341 team average last weekend.

“I’ve never been on a team like this. Everybody in this lineup can hit,” Cross said. “It’s the opposite of last year. I felt like I couldn’t count on as many people and I felt like I had to do it.

Here, up and down the lineup, I can count on anybody. Defensively, if we don’t hit, we can hold them, and that helps a lot.”


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