2023 Softball Season Preview

Posted on February 24th, 2023 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. — The Gustavus softball team kicks off its 2023 season this weekend, heading to Mankato for a series of opening games at the Minnesota State Dome. The Gusties will face Coe College tomorrow at 6 p.m., followed by UW-Eau Claire at 8:30 p.m. The Gusties are looking to build off last year’s season, finishing sixth in the conference with a MIAC record of 10-12 and an overall record of 15-22.

Head Coach Coley Ries Welter, in her third year at the helm for the Gusties, will rely on the experience of her captains to lead her young team this year. Kate Murray (Sr., Chanhassen), Kayla Ruud (Sr., Savage) and Madi Mueller (Jr., North Mankato) will serve as the team’s captains, and will certainly lead both on and off the field.

Mueller returns for her junior season after an All-Conference performance the year before, starting in all 37 games for the Gusties and leading the regular starters with a .371 batting average. Mueller finished last season leading the team in hits (49), at-bats (132), runs (32), triples (3), home runs (2), total bases (67), slugging percentage (.508), and stolen bases (12-15). In the field, Mueller had 66 putouts, four assists, and zero errors for a 1.000 fielding percentage, finishing the season as one of only three MIAC players with a perfect mark.

Ruud will add to the Gusties’ success in the field, finishing with the team’s lead in putouts last season at 215, good for fifth amongst all MIAC players. Ruud finished with the conference’s fifth-best fielding percentage at .995, and was tied for second in the MIAC with eight double plays.

The Gusties boast a 21-player roster this season, built of 10 returning players and 11 new faces. “Our returners all have experience starting and playing in games and they make up a great mix of talent. We will need them to take our first-years under their wing and get them up to speed this season.”

Even though just more than half of the team is new to collegiate softball, Ries Welter expects her freshman class to make a splash in the MIAC this season.

“I think they could have an immediate impact on our team this year. There’s some spots up in the air, and just looking through the beginning of the season, we’ll have the opportunity to try a bunch of different options and see who can step up in game situations,” said Ries Welter. “Obviously, with a lot of new players we’ll have plenty of learning moments, but they’ve all played at a high level prior to collegiate softball, so they’re definitely prepared to make an impact right away.”

The newcomers are highlighted by Marah Hulke (Courtland), Olivia Guggenberger (Rosemount), and Maizie Anderson (Rosemount) who will join returners Piper Otto (Jr., Brooklyn Park) and Chloe Smallfield (So., Papillion, Neb.) on the pitching staff this season.

Otto was undoubtedly the Gusties’ ace of the pitching staff last season, starting in 20 games and earning All-Conference honors. Otto owned a 3.03 ERA and 94 strikeouts in an 8-13 overall record, averaging the fifth-most innings pitched among fellow MIAC competitors. It’s Ries Welter’s hope that with the help of Smallfield and her three new ringers that the Gustie pitching staff will be a balanced, well-oiled machine this season.

“We leaned on Piper a lot last year, and she will continue to be the leader of our pitching staff this season. But, we have a far more complete staff this year. Thanks to Chloe and our three first-year pitchers we have a lot more depth, and, if we manage them correctly, they will all have more success.”

The Gusties will wait for April 1 to begin conference play, hosting Augsburg for the team’s home opener.

2023 Roster | 2023 Schedule


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