Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Vikings stay optimistic heading into conference

Ashley Anderson hitting the ball in a game this season against St. Ambrose

After finishing the weekend with a pair of one-run losses at the Augustana Invitational, Augustana junior pitcher Ashley Anderson believes this will help the team grow as conference play begins.
“We learned a lot about ourselves as a team this weekend,” said Anderson. “The first day our offense was there and the second day it didn’t show up, so I think that taught us that we need to bring it all together to succeed.”
Despite the losses, head coach Kris Kistler found optimism in her pitching staff.
“I think we solidified our pitching which was really important for us,” Kistler said. “Our pitchers stepped up and pitched really well so we’re excited about that.”
The host Vikings began the weekend on a tear with wins over Ripon (11-3) and Coe (6-2). But day two of the Invitational saw the hosts lose defensive battles to Wisconsin-Stout and Wartburg, 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
Kistler and senior outfielder Chelsea Lavin hope that these early-season games will help the team mature as they begin the conference season.
“A key for us moving forward is to mature as a team,” Lavin said. “I think this weekend helped us do that.”
“We’ve been trying to play tough teams early in order to get ready for a tough conference schedule,” Kistler said.
The CCIW currently has three teams ranked in the top 20 of the Division III National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll. Illinois Wesleyan is ranked 11th in the poll, while Augustana and North Central are 18th and 19th, respectively.
Lavin knows that the team’s success will have to come from a solid effort in all phases of the game.
“We have strong offense, defense, and great pitching,” Lavin said. “But I think it’s a matter of having all aspects of our game to be there and not just one to have success moving forward.”
Lavin, a center fielder, has been instrumental to the Vikings 14-5-1 record.
“Chelsea (Lavin) has been our main vocal leader this season,” said Kistler. “She is a lead by example type of girl and we’ve been relying on her a lot.”
“Our senior leadership, especially from Chelsea in the outfield, has definitely helped our young team,” said Anderson. “We have a lot of youth, so our upperclassmen try to help keep them calm in difficult situations.”
The schedule isn’t going to get any easier for Lavin and the Vikings as they begin CCIW conference play with a doubleheader at Millikin (10-10) on Friday, April 3, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

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Vikings stay optimistic heading into conference