Junior Shearyna Labasan throws the ball to home plate during a game against Saint Martin's University on April 9. // Photo by Roisin Cowan-Kuist
Coming off a Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in 2017, the Vikings softball team came into the 2018 season with 10 returning players.
However, the Vikings have dealt with a lack of run support and shoddy defense. The Vikings are last in the GNAC in batting average and next-to-last in errors. Western also had a 17-13-1 record at this time last year and sport a record of 11-23 this season.
Coming into the 2018 season, the Vikings had young roster. There are seven freshmen on the team, and all of them have been in the starting lineup at some point in the season.
Scott Howard, Western alumnus from the class of 1977, has watched many of the Vikings’ games this season.
“The pitching seems to be good, but there doesn’t seem to be that much [run] support,” he said.
Shortstop Paityn Cyr reflected on the group dynamic and the challenges they have faced as a team.
“We know we have the talent and we’re in every game, it’s just the little things,” Cyr said. “One error or one pitch could change the whole thing, and if you lose the game it’s just like ‘Oh, we could have done this or we could have done that.’ So, it’s just being really clean and scrappy, rather than a lot of errors.”
Cyr said the motto the team has kept in mind over the course of the season has been “Being in our feet.”
“[‘Being in our feet’ is] like being where our feet are, being present and being in the moment, rather than worrying about every other thing,” she said.
She said this reminder has helped Western move past errors and focus on each individual play as it happens.
Cyr talked about the team dynamic last year and how it played a major role in the team’s success.
“We had a really good bond on the field last year. We had a lot of upperclassman who were big leaders,” she said. “Just as a whole, we played for us. We just played for each other.”
Sports information director Jeff Evans attempted to explain the changes this season in an email.
“This team has been faced with a lot of adversity this season and has grown each time they have stepped on the field.” he said. “They are a very young team [that] has taken the challenge head on and grown immensely throughout the season. Coach Suiter and the staff have done a remarkable job as injuries and a little bad luck has been a factor this season.”
Head coach Amy Suiter has told the team they are looking to make it to the GNAC tournament in the remaining games of the season, Cyr said. Western is in seventh in the GNAC and the top four teams advance.
The regular season will end on April 29 with an away game against Western Oregon University. The GNAC tournament starts May 3 in Portland, Oregon and ends May 5.