Mort ready for team’s results to catch up with effort


Mavs ready to Swing for Life

Mesa State will play its third annual Swing for Life game at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Bergman Field. The Mavericks will wear black and pink jerseys, which will be either sold or auctioned, along with several Mesa State items, including caps, visors, sweatshirts, T-shirts and fleece jackets. The players have the first chance to buy their own jersey, with about half of them already sold, and the others will be up for bid. All of the proceeds benefit Swing for Life, which in turn donates 100 percent of money raised to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation for breast cancer research. Mesa State graduate and former volleyball and softball player Kathy Howa, the founder of Swing For Life and a cancer survivor, will attend the game and throw out the first pitch, with assistant coach Jim Hazelhurst, who is battling cancer, catching. Howa will also have several items, including T-shirts and wristbands, for sale. Mesa State coach Kris Mort has a goal of raising $2,000.

“So many people have been impacted by cancer in their family, even in our Mesa State family,” Mort said. “Some of our players have lost mothers, grandmothers, aunts. The best thing is, I know every dollar of what we raise goes to the Huntsman Foundation for cancer research.

“We were the first college to participate in Swing for Life, and now she has some big schools involved, so it’s cool to know Mesa State, a Division II school, was the first.”

Kris Mort is ready for her youngsters to grow up.

It’s not that the young Mesa State College softball players aren’t trying, it’s just that there’s a big learning curve from high school to college softball, one they’re trying to grasp.

“You want to hold onto those expectations for your kids year in and year out,” Mort said. “But when you look at reality, we have a lot of youth. With Lauren (Cross) out, we have two true freshmen at third and both of them, third is their secondary position.

“Whitney Bailey is a catcher first, then a third baseman, and Wailana Borrero is a pitcher, then a third baseman. We’ve played J.J. Johnson over there some and she’s been a catcher all of her years growing up in the valley, never played third. We’re just using her long levers (arms and legs) and her wear-one-off-the-chest mentality and teaching her how to play third.

“Bless those kids, they’re working their tails off and trying.

“Monday, with Katie’s (Mitchell) shoulder injury, we started true freshmen at second, third, short and catcher, and we’ve got a young outfield. Dani (Vallie) and (Lita Romero) are not true outfielders, they’re infielders turned outfielders because of their speed.”

The Mavericks (8-10, 6-10 RMAC) play CSU-Pueblo (14-8, 10-6) in doubleheaders today and Saturday at Bergman Field. Today’s first pitch is at noon, with Saturday’s Swing for Life game starting at 11 a.m.

Mort can’t fault the Mavs’ effort and knows at some point, their game IQ will catch up to their energy.

“There’s a lot to be said about maturity at the plate, understanding at the plate, and right now we’re seeing a lot of youth,” she said.

“I’m putting in a pinch-runner and we’re looking at three strikes. You have to understand the bigger picture here, you can’t look for your favorite pitch, you have to hit all the strikes and be capable of doing that, and we’re not quite there yet.”

The Mavericks are hitting .335 as a team, with five players, including two of those freshmen, hitting .340 or better. Freshman catcher Megan Smith is hitting .349 and second baseman Lisa Pille is hitting .340 with 11 RBI.

The biggest thing is how many runners the Mavericks, veterans and rookies, are leaving on base.

“We’ve left 146 on base, so we’re not hitting in clutch situations,” Mort said. “I’m very pleased with our average, our power potential is a little sluggish. We have a little hesitancy, we’re not taking killer hacks, but we’re hitting a lot of doubles. We’re right there in every category.”


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