Historic win in preseason shows promising signs for Norse softball
February 24, 2023
The Norse softball team made history this past weekend by earning the first win against a power five school in NKU’s history.
The Norse had a near shutout victory against the Michigan State Spartans, giving up only one run through seven innings thanks to the pitching from Alicia Flores, Madisyn Eads and Lauryn Hicks. This performance from the mound, which was complemented by eight hits and three RBI’s from the Norse, is what led them to making history.
“That just shows what we’re capable of and I just know we’re capable of even more,” said junior pitcher Sydni Barnes.
Outside of their historic win, the Norse finished the invitational 2-3, defeating MSU and Texas A&M-Commerce and losing to Texas A&M, MSU (in their first matchup) and Tarleton State. Last season the Norse went 0-3 against power five schools, being outscored 32-1 in preseason openers.
This invitational has given positive insight into what to expect out of the Norse this season. One key concern that some fans had was losing senior catcher and slugger Kendyl McKeough, who had a batting average of .326 and led the team with 15 of 26 of their home runs and 40 of the Norse’s 151 RBI’s in the 2022 season.
“Kendyl, at some points [last year], carried us by herself,” said head coach Kathryn Gleason.
But the doubts that fans may have had after losing a key offensive player were quickly answered in the invitational as junior outfielder Ella LeMonier led the Norse’ offense and topped charts in NCAA stats. LeMonier tied for fourth in stolen bases and tied for sixth with 10 hits.
“Ella has really just stepped it up. Her junior year and playing against Texas A&M, she really just sets the table as the lead off hitter,” Gleason said.
Other notable offensive players throughout the games include Olivia Pastin who has had only four at bats, Trinity Robertson who finished with an over .500 batting average alongside LeMonier, Tatum Biddle who finished with five hits and two RBI’s, and Jenna O’Hair who finished with four total runs and three hits.
“I think we have a more well-rounded lineup this year,” Gleason said.
Outside of offensive changes, the Norse have aimed at making mentality changes as well. Gleason claims the team together has started reading a book by Amber Selking, a sports psychologist from Notre Dame.
“We’ve focused a lot more on our mental health this off-season,” said senior pitcher Lauryn Hicks.
Hicks noted that reading the book and sharing that experience with her teammates has led to an enormous shift in the mentality in the players. The players believe that adopting the winners mentality on and off the field has boosted their performances on the field.
“The book is really helping us… it’s easy to get down on yourself mentally and I think for me the book is helping me get mentally stronger,” said freshman third baseman Brielle DiMemmo. “I’m not going to slow down. I’m just going to push harder.”
Gleason has hopes that instilling this mentality on the players and growing mentally helps the team get a firm hand on the game. Returning players have mentioned that the change is noticeably affecting their game.
“We’ve changed our mindset, which is the main thing,” said Sydni Barnes.
Gleason credits some of their historic win to this mentality shift. She believes that allowing the players the opportunity to grow their mind alongside their game will help take control of the game especially with such a diverse class on the roster. The Norse have 10 sophomores and freshmen, and 11 upperclassmen.
“We don’t go in expecting perfection on day one, but we see the potential and try to embody that with good leadership,” Hicks said.
Having such a mixed group of players could cause issues with lack of experience or inconsistent lineups, but the Norse hold each other to the same standard regardless of class.
“If I’m getting down on myself, they’re pretty easy to pick me up,” DiMemmo said.
With the mental shift off the field playing a big role on the field and it reflecting in their offensive performances, the Norse have nothing but high expectations and aim to continue their already historic season.