Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – While the stormy weather kept the Lutes off the field last weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University softball team is ready to begin Northwest Conference play this weekend, hosting Pacific University for a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.
"It's been tough working with the weather lately, we've had to be flexible," Head Coach Brandi Gordon Bennett said. "Our players have been awesome about being ready to go wherever we are, and we've been having high energy practices to keep us ready for these upcoming games."
Coach Gordon Bennett has had plenty of time to get comfortable managing her new team, and she's hoping that'll pay off this weekend when she enters her first games against a conference foe.
"We try to stress that each game is as important as the next, and that the first is just as crucial as the last," Gordon said. "You hope as a coach that you get that across, and there's surely going to be some nerves this weekend, but I know that our players are ready to go."
The Lutes have had a lot of downtime since their last competitive outing, so they'll be ready to show what they've been up to over the last few weeks.
"We want to make sure that we feel good about our preparation, and we're trying to make our players feel accomplished," Gordon said. "It's been nice to have extra time, and we took care of what we needed to do."
The players have also been doing what they can outside of practice to ensure that the bad weather isn't affecting their performance.
"It's always hard to work with this weather," senior Emily McConnell said. "A lot of us have been coming in for extra time, and getting in extra work, which has been great to see."
As if the players didn't need enough incentive, the extra depth that the team has throughout their lineup has made for some pretty competitive practices.
"It's really cool to have more depth, it makes us push ourselves," McConnell said. "It's nice that we have a new coach that doesn't have any preconceived ideas of how each of us play, so we can all compete for our spots while also playing in different places and adapting easily."
The Lutes will put their depth to the test this weekend, as they get their first impression of what the Northwest Conference will have in store for them this season. First pitch is at noon on both Saturday and Sunday at PLU Field.
Feb. 24 & 25: PLU vs. Pacific at PLU Field (12 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Boxers have met 130 times on the diamond with PLU holding a 73-57 edge in the all-time series. Pacific won the series last year, winning three of four in Forest Grove, Oregon.
About the Boxers: Pacific (2-8, 0-0 NWC) heads to Tacoma having dropped six of its last seven games. The Boxers opened 2017 with a tour of the Lone Star State, facing off against a pair of top 5 programs in University of Texas-Tyler and East Texas Baptist University. Pacific picked up a win over Centenary College (9-0) during its Texas tour while dropping games against University of Texas-Dallas (11-2, 5-1), UT Tyler (9-0), and East Texas Baptist (9-1, 9-5).
Pacific earned a doubleheader split in its last time on the diamond, collecting a 5-1 win over host Concordia University (Ore.) before suffering a 3-2 extra inning setback in game two.
Cindy Chan is the Boxers' leading hitter, owning a .500 average in 22 at-bats. Ashley Martin is the workhorse inside the circle, pitching a team-high 20 2.3 innings with six strikeouts.