Mavs making moves at right time in softball
Kris Mort still can’t believe how this softball season has mirrored last spring.
Mesa State started off slowly, looked to be out of the race, then adopted its “Play to May” attitude. May is here, and the Mavericks are once again in the thick of things in the RMAC softball tournament that begins today in Denver.
Mesa State (20-18) is the No. 4 seed in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, facing Colorado School of Mines at 9:30 this morning.
The Mavericks are also in the national playoff picture, moving up two spots to No. 8 in the Central Region, the cutoff spot for consideration.
Now, Mort said, the Mavericks need to continue to fight like they did Sunday in a tense, 14-12 victory over Adams State.
“We’re capable,” she said. “I think everybody is capable of playing really well and everyone is capable of having another one of those days. We need to not play like (Saturday, when they were swept by Adams) and play like we’re capable, like we played Sunday. I think we showed an incredible amount of resolve and growth the way we played.
“I feel comfortable if we play like we played Sunday, we can beat anybody in that tournament. If we play like we played Saturday, it’ll be a very short visit.”
Metro State won the regular-season title going away, going 37-2 in RMAC play. The next-best record was Western New Mexico at 23-14.
The Mavericks are hitting the ball as well as they have all season.
“I hope they show up and hit again,” Mort said.
“We’re smoking the ball. Megan Smith and Whitney Bailey hit home runs that were line drives, didn’t clear the fence by more than six inches. They were like they were out of a rocket launcher.”
Sara Jordan will pitch as many games as she’s able, as has been the case the past few weeks.
“Sara is throwing very well right now. She understands that when she really bows her neck and puts her mind to being impossible, she’s as good as anybody in this conference,” Mort said.
Mort isn’t looking beyond Mines (22-24) to any potential matchups.
“We’re not going to talk about ‘if we win the first game,’ ” she said. “Get on the bus at this time, this is what time we play, this is the lineup, play ball.”
Altitude makes a big difference in how a tennis ball flies through the air, so Colorado teams might be a little worried about playing in the flatlands of Minnesota.
That’s not the way the Mesa State women’s tennis team sees things.
“The good thing about going down in altitude is that it really helps Kate Lowder’s game,” coach Dan MacDonald said of the Mavs’ Central Region tournament this week in St. Cloud, Minn. “She hits such a flat ball it tends to fly here. We were in Florida and she was playing great.
“It seems like when we go down in altitude we play a little bit better. The guys might struggle a little bit at first, but the girls seem like they adjust quicker to it. It should be the opposite in my mind.”
The good news for the men is that they don’t have to adjust one bit — they host St. Cloud State at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Elliott Tennis Center.
The women play Winona State this afternoon, with the winner facing St. Cloud on Friday. morning. The winner of that match, and the men’s match Saturday, advance to the national tournament in Florida.
MacDonald isn’t sure what to expect this week, but he likes the Mavs’ chances, especially since they aren’t playing RMAC teams for the third or fourth time this season.
“The women’s brackets are crazy,” he said. “Anyone can win.”