Herd roll into town on 18-game win streak
The sun is 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit. Earth’s core is 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. NDSU’s softball team has been somewhere in between those two for the last month.
The team is rolling on an 18-game winning streak right now and find themselves at the top of the Summit League standings.
One of the biggest reasons behind their success has been redshirt junior Katie Shoultz. The Muscatine, Iowa native is batting an otherworldly .427 on the year. Shoultz has also been a force on the bases, having stolen 20 bases on the year, half the team’s total.
Another reason for the team’s success is their pitching, especially late in games. The Bison are 22-0 when leading after the 6thh inning. Strong bullpen pitching is what separates teams that are good with teams that are contenders to win in postseason play.
The Bison have also pitched nine shutouts while only being shutout once themselves. This further proves that the Bison are remarkably balanced. What may be most impressive about this team, however, is they have had all this success despite not playing a single home game.
The Herd has traveled around the country silencing home crowds and dominating the competition. That changes Saturday when South Dakota State comes into town for a three-game series.
The third-place Jacks are hoping to get used to playing in Fargo, being that is where the Summit League tournament will take place.
The Bison are just looking to keep rolling. Catcher Maddie Hansen, the defending Summit League player of the week, is coming off a week in which she batted .545 with a slugging percentage of 1.000. Hansen now leads the team in home runs (8) as well as RBIs (30).
This is a big step up from her junior season in which she batted .204 and had just 18 RBIs. However, perhaps the most important thing Hansen brings to the table is her senior leadership. Catchers are asked to quarterback the game, and Hansen’s experience has been a big part of the team’s success.
The only question is whether the Bison have peaked too early. Historically, long winning streaks mean absolutely nothing in terms of postseason success. The target on their backs has gotten rather large, and every team will be giving them their absolute best shot.
Right now, the pressure is pretty minimal, but what about in few weeks? What if the team extends their streak to 25 games? 30? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though, and instead remain cautiously optimistic. The team is loaded and has all the tools necessary to win the Summit League regular season as well as the Summit League Tournament.
Their blend of youth and upperclassmen, as well as their ability to out hit and out pitch every team in the conference, make them the favorites right now.
The trip to Vermillion to take on the South Dakota Coyotes in two weeks will be one series to watch. The Coyotes are 8-1 in conference and are the best bets to win the Summit League outside of the Bison.
Every game matters from this point forward, so sit back, grab some seeds and enjoy the ride.