Softball coach Mort pleased with Mavericks’ progress

Pitching starting to come around for Mesa State

Jamie Prather and the Mesa State Mavericks haven’t peaked yet, one thing coach Kris Mort knows will come as the season continues.

The conference season begins so quickly in softball, there’s not much time to figure out your team before the games really start to count.

That’s what Kris Mort and the Mesa State College softball team have been fighting through the past two weeks, but there was a glimmer of getting things figured out last weekend.

“We’re a lot better team than we’ve shown and than we’ve shown ourselves,” Mort said after the Mavericks split a four-game series with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs at Bergman Field.

“I don’t think anybody is going to respect us at this point. We have yet to peak, and if we continue to get better and peak, we’ll come in and surprise some people. I told the kids that there’s an opportunity for us to throw a surprise party for some people.”

The Mavs got a bit of a surprise from sophomore pitcher Cierra Lard in the final game of the series. Her 12-strikeout performance lifted the Mavs to a 6-3 victory and has Mort hoping she can continue that kind of pitching the rest of the season and work her way into the rotation.

Mesa State (6-8, 2-6 RMAC) has a busy week during spring break, playing a doubleheader at Fort Lewis (7-7, 4-4) today, then taking on preseason RMAC favorite Colorado School of Mines (14-9, 6-2) in a four-game series Saturday and Sunday in Golden.

Sara Jordan and Jessica Rayman both threw well this past weekend — Rayman was the victim of some bad luck when she was pulled after six stellar innings in the third game of the series and the bullpen couldn’t hang on to the lead.

“I’m trying to piggyback some kids because none of them throw hard enough except Cierra to
get through seven innings, and I thought we were OK to make a change,” Mort said. “That’s why I went with it, but it didn’t happen for us.”

The Mavericks hit well in the first weekend of the season but lost some confidence at the plate in a four-game sweep by Metro State to open the conference season. They started to get some of that back last weekend at home.

“We started swinging out of it a little bit at the end and put the ball in play like we’re capable,” Mort said. “We have not played to our potential. The good news is, it’s not May, it’s not time to peak.

“I told them a split will never hurt you, but a split never helps you, either. It’s neutral. It showed a lot of heart coming out with a split, considering we had to fight back in, but it’s a bad habit to get into, and it does become a habit.”

Mort, who uses a lot of analogies to get her thoughts across to her players, had several last weekend.

“We’re hanging on with everything we’ve got, with our fingertips,” she said. “We’ve got to keep hanging on and grappling for a better grip, get on firm ground and then we can get up on top from there.

“Right now you’ve got to hold the rope and don’t let go. You’ve got your lifeline and you’ve got to be tough. You’ve gotta start getting a better grip to where we can start climbing.”


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