Northwest softball was able to step foot on Bearcat Softball Field April 1 for the first time in 353 days in search for consistency.
The Bearcats (9-14, 4-6 MIAA) played host to a pair of MIAA rivals in Lincoln and Lindenwood April 1-2. Northwest swept the homestand taking all four games from the Blue Tigers and Lions.
In the first meetings in Maryville, the Bearcats hung 30 runs on the board in two contests, beating Lincoln 15-2 and 15-0 April 1. Freshman infielder Olivia Daugherty went 6-for-8 and drove in four runs in the doubleheader against the Blue Tigers. Along with Daugherty, junior infielders Erin Keeney and Karli Allen both crushed two homers in the series.
Northwest collected two more wins, one in dramatic fashion, when Lindenwood came to town April 2. The Bearcats walked-off the Lions in Game 1 of the doubleheader 11-10 as a two-run Daugherty long ball proved to be the game winner.
Daugherty owns a .436 batting average, which is good for a team-high. Northwest rolled to a 7-1 win in Game 2 where Keeney again stole the show going 2-for-3 with five RBIs.
“Finally being able to play on our home field was really great,” Daugherty said. “Thankfully the weather was on our side these last two days, which makes the games even better. Seeing everyone's family being able to come to the games was also really nice.”
Coach Ryan Anderson echoed the response of his freshman lead-off hitter, explaining being at home helped his team get comfortable.
“It’s finally nice,” Anderson said. “Considering we were supposed to be here two weeks ago … it’s nice to be home; you’re not on the road traveling. This weekend is a long trip to Kearney and Hays. It’s always tough to play there.”
After a Game 2 loss to Missouri S&T March 27, Northwest has built a four-game winning streak and is hoping to add to it when they travel to Nebraska-Kearney April 6. Coach Ryan Anderson said he was relieved with the way hits were falling for his ball club.
“It’s nice really just to have hits falling,” Anderson said. “We’ve had some frustration within people when the balls weren't falling, and yesterday (April 1) we had a chance to hit a lot. Today (April 2) we got some good hits, and it’s not two people carrying us. Up and down the lineup, we are hitting.”
Daugherty was one of those hitters that got things going during the stretch of home games. The freshman lead-off hitter went 10-for-16 with 10 RBIs in the four games in Maryville.
“She was hot both days,” Anderson said. “You always hope you have someone hot every weekend, and she saw it well (both days), and hopefully, she keeps it going.”
With four more wins under their belts, Daugherty explained the success of her other teammates rubbed off on her.
“Seeing my teammates do well, of course, pushes me to be my best,” Daugherty said. “I think that as a whole, we really wanted to get some wins to carry us into this weekend.”
Sophomore pitcher Regan Thompson struck out 12 batters in 12 innings pitched during the homestand. The sophomore standout only allowed three hits in her complete game against Lindenwood April 2. Anderson said Thompson’s pitching is a product of getting into a “groove.”
“It’s good to see her throwing well,” Anderson said. “We’ve played sporadically for two months now, and we’re hoping (to start) getting some games going … that we can get some repetition and get some consistency.”
Keeney was named MIAA Hitter of the Week for her performances against Missouri S&T and Lincoln. The Blue Springs native hit .615 with three home runs and drove in nine runs as the Bearcats went 3-1 in their four games. Keeney also leads the squad with 30 RBIs.
“She was one we needed (April 1-2); she needed to get her confidence back,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t that she was having bad at-bats, they just weren’t falling. … We had a lot of people that needed at-bats, and we got some hits out of it.”
Northwest is now tasked with the No. 7 and No. 8 ranked teams in the conference on a weekend road trip. Anderson said even though his team swept both doubleheaders, there is still more for them to work on.
“We need to clean some things up,” Anderson said. “We had some mental mistakes but our hitting overshadowed it.”