Softball finds perfect groove

Senior Kelly Kapp went 11-18 at the plate in an unblemished weekend for the Braves. photo via Bradley University Marketing

Senior Kelly Kapp went 11-18 at the plate in an unblemished weekend for the Braves.
photo via Bradley University Marketing

The Bradley women’s softball team didn’t have time to attend any Mardi Gras festivities in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend, but they did get to celebrate an undefeated tournament as it went 5-0 in the Mardi Gras Classic.  

The Braves picked up wins over Bowling Green, 5-3, Mississippi Valley State, 12-5, Maryland, 4-2, Dartmouth, 6-3 and Louisiana Lafayette, 2-1.

“We’re learning how to win,” head coach Amy Hayes said. “Every weekend we’ve gotten a little bit better, and we came back in a few games down there to take the win. I think that shows great resilience on our kids’ parts. I was just really proud of the way they played.”

The biggest game of the weekend came in the finale against No. 16-ranked tournament host Louisiana Lafayette. Freshman pitcher Emily Visnic hurled the best game of her young career as she no-hit the Ragin’ Cajuns through four and two-thirds innings.

“Emily just kept them off balance,” junior catcher Maria Schroeder said. “We were just able to move the ball around. They did get some solid hits that were turned into outs that were just right at people, but she just threw a good game and didn’t let the situation get too big.”

In the top of the sixth, Louisiana Lafayette singled with the bases loaded off Bradley pitcher Jaelen Hull, which allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to take a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth, Schroeder found herself in a clutch situation and didn’t disappoint. With a runner on second, she drilled a go-ahead two-run homer to left field, giving the Braves the lead.

“It was my third time up against their pitcher, so I felt pretty good about it,” Schroeder said. “They were pounding me inside, and that wasn’t what I was looking for. I was either trying to sit outside or sit on her changeup, and eventually she threw me that changeup, and I just saw it really well and just let everything go.”

The Braves then closed the door in the top of the seventh when Hull struck out the last batter to salvage a perfect road trip. With three tournaments in the books, Hayes said the Braves are starting to come together as a team.

“I just think the resiliency is there,” Hayes said. “We talk a lot about resiliency and grit and fight. I think they’re buying into that and buying into each other, which is the most important thing. We don’t necessarily have pretty games or clean games, but it’s just that ability to know that we’re going to win, and it’s really nice to see that in our program so early in the season.”

Schroeder had a huge weekend at the plate for the Braves, going 7-16 with eight RBI, two home runs and two triples.

“I think we’re starting to realize that no matter how the game starts, we’re always going to be in it,” Schroeder said. “It doesn’t matter what they’re ranked, what conference they’re in. We can beat anybody as long as we play our game.”

The team will be back on the road this weekend as they play in the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville, Tennessee. They will play a doubleheader against Ohio at 1:30 p.m. and No. 15 ranked Tennessee at 4 p.m.