During their annual spring break trip, the Trinity softball team traveled to the Tucson Invitational Games, where the team earned a 3–2 record after recording three wins on Thursday and two losses on Friday.
“The Tucson Invitational Games are a three-week-long tournament that’s primarily organized so that teams can travel and play during their spring break. We chose this tournament as a way to go back home for several of our Arizona players. Additionally, a lot of northern teams attend as well, which allows us to play against teams that we wouldn’t normally get to compete against,” said Brandi Dolsen, head softball coach.
In preparation for these games, the team engaged in their regular season routine, which features strategy sessions and team practices.
“Before our games, we usually prepare based on things we struggled with in our previous games. In our daily practices, we use a variety of front toss, pitching machines and live pitchers to work on our hitting. For this week, we conferred with the pitchers and catchers on what type of hitters they’d be seeing, as well as discussing with our hitters what type of pitching they’d be seeing,” Dolsen said.
The Tigers’ first scheduled game, originally slotted for the Thursday of spring break, against Mount Mary University was cancelled due to weather, so play for the Tigers began against the Saints from the College of St. Scholastica, who traveled from Minnesota.
With Trinity batting in the top of the first inning, the Tiger offense started the tournament strong. Trinity’s leadoff batter, senior outfielder Devon Potter, earned a single, then stole second. A double by first-year pitcher Lauren Rich brought Potter home and earned the first run of the tournament for the Tigers.
“Every game, we aim to start out strong on offense, so it was important to us that we get an early lead in the first Arizona game. Scoring early in the first game allowed us to get some momentum going and especially helped us carry that success through the entire tournament,” Rich said.
By the top of the third inning, Trinity led by 9–0. The Saints were unable to score until the bottom of the fourth inning, in which two runners advanced to home after a double and an unearned run. In the top of the fifth, a single by sophomore shortstop Brianna Pena brought sophomore Emily Vaclavik and senior Rylie Goldwait home. Given the 12–2 lead, the game concluded after five innings after fulfillment of the run rule.
Trinity’s second game of the week was against the Dickinson College Red Devils. Following two runs in the first inning and one run in the third inning, the Tigers found themselves down 3–0 heading into the fourth.
First-year pitcher Cat Patterson explains that, even under pressure, her primary goals remained unwavering.
“I knew I needed to step up my intensity both physically and mentally, and I told myself I would not let up. I knew I had to provide for my defense so our offense could go to work, and that’s what I did,” Patterson said.
Trinity was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning after a home run from senior outfielder Marisa Trevino while Rich was on first base brought the score to 3–2. In the same inning, the Tigers tied the game after a double by sophomore catcher Katherine Weber brought Pena home.
Patterson successfully fended off any further runs in the fifth and sixth innings while a homerun by Pena in the bottom of the sixth edged the Tigers ahead 4–3. Three consecutive outs in the top of the seventh concluded the game and improved the Tigers’ tournament record to 2–0.
The third game of the day, which resulted in another run rule victory, was played against Cornell College. The 10–0 victory was earned primarily through a strong second inning by the Tigers in which five runners reached home. The game was also the fourth time since 1999 that Trinity softball has played three games in one day.
“Three games in one day is not ideal, but with the rain-out on Wednesday, it forced us into that situation. The girls played really well, and we were fortunate to get a couple of run rules that helped our pitchers not have to throw as many innings,” Dolsen said.
On Friday, the Tigers opened play against the Bethany Lutheran College Vikings. After a double with two outs on the board, the Vikings gained a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Trinity was unable to score until the top of the fifth when a hit by sophomore second-baseman Carli Jones led to Vaclavik advancing home. The Vikings responded with two runs of their own in the fifth. Despite another run by the Tigers in the top of the seventh, they were unable to tie the game, and the Vikings earned a 3–2 victory. The game marked the first loss of the week for the Trinity team.
The final game of the tournament, which was played against Central College, resulted in the team’s second loss. The only run of the game for the Trinity team occurred in the bottom of the third inning after a hit by third baseman Goldwait brought first-year outfielder Emily Barefield home. The game concluded with a 5–1 victory for Central College and settled Trinity’s record for the week at 3–2, improving their overall season record to 10–7.
Dolsen believes that the results of this tournament were a great stepping stone for the rest of the season.
“The trip definitely helped prepare us for our upcoming weekend against Texas Lutheran. It was a great team bonding experience, and we got a lot of at-bats, which will be beneficial to us moving forward,” Dolsen said.
Next, the Tigers will take on Texas Lutheran University (TLU) in a four-game series at home. The first game will be played at 5 p.m. on March 22 at the Trinity Softball Field.
“We spent all of spring break together as a team, starting by traveling to Austin College and then going to Arizona. By the end of the week, we were even closer than before and definitely playing even better. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can take our energy from last week into this weekend for our games against TLU. They are a tough opponent, but we are excited to see how we can come together and compete with them,” Rich said.