BY CONNOR THELEMANN | Statesman The Bulldogs haven’t had time to worry about the weather lately. They’ve been too busy winning.
The University of Minnesota Duluth softball team (11-6) is coming off an impressive 9-1 road trip in Florida and they’re riding a current seven-game winning streak into Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.
First-year head coach Jen Walter credits the team’s significant improvement off of a 1-3 start to UMD’s plate approach.
“A big difference was that our bats came alive,” Walter said. “We started swinging at better pitches and getting better at bats, which led to much better hitting.”
Sophomore second baseman Natalie Wright, who leads the team in hits and batting average, says the team’s overall attitude has played a role in their success as well.
“We came into our Florida games with the mindset and confidence that we knew we could beat any of those teams,” Wright said. “We had the drive to win and also had confidence in each other that we would all do our jobs and perform how we could. We played relaxed and just had fun.”
With Florida in the rearview mirror, the Bulldogs are looking ahead to the beginning of NSIC play. The team hopes to extend its winning streak over three upcoming road series.
The Bulldogs will start conference play with a series versus St. Cloud State University on Tuesday. SCSU (14-11) is currently on a five-game winning streak and has outscored their opponents 46-9 over that span.
On Friday they’ll travel to the University of Concordia St. Paul (6-14), who has struggled thus far but is always tough on the road.
In arguably their toughest test of the six-game road trip, the Bulldogs will look to finish strong against the Minnesota State Mavericks on Saturday, who hold a 17-7 record heading into conference play.
Walter knows the schedule isn’t easy, but says the Bulldogs are ready for the challenge, which mostly falls on upsetting Minnesota State, who was picked to finish No. 3 in the NSIC this season.
“This conference is solid,” Walter said. “There really are a lot of good teams and we’re one of them. We just need to stay focused. We can’t take a day off.”
The key for the Bulldogs, who were picked to finish No. 5 in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, will be to focus on their own game—not their opponents’.
“We’re not too worried about who we play, we’re more focused on how we play and how prepared we are,” Walter said.