Coach Shanda Ness returns the majority of her team that finished atop the MIAC last season and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The team will be playing at the Simpson College tournament on March 20th in Indianola, Iowa.
Shanda Ness has turned Gustavus into a softball powerhouse and this year appears that little has changed. The team returns nearly the whole squad from last year’s team that finished 27-11 and made the NCAA Tournament. The team set a school record for total wins and conference wins, while marking the third year in a row the Gusties have won 20 or more games in a season.
The Gusties will be led by a pair of senior pitchers, Molly Biehn and Sara Medved. Biehn led the Gusties with a 1.50 ERA and a 16-6 record. Medved posted similar numbers, going 10-3 with a 1.51 ERA. Biehn was also named the MIAC Player of the Year last year.
While pitching will be the team’s strength, offense shouldn’t be a problem either. The Gusties batted .302 as a team last season and return three of its top five batters. Super sophomore Audrey Lenoch batted .409 with a .722 slugging percentage while also driving in a team-best 41 RBI’s. Lenoch was named Third Team All-America as a freshman. Senior outfielder Ingrid Olson hit .344 and posted 13 stolen bases last year. Kristen Kunz also joined the .300 club, hitting .314, respectively.
Junior Melissa Aust and Senior Claire Mielke will provide the Gusties with an experienced pair of infielders. The team’s main question for the year will be who will fill the hole at shortstop. If that question gets answered, the Gusties should once again be looking at a successful season.