The William Jewell College softball team is having their best season start since 2011, currently 10-2 overall. They had their 10th win March 3 against the University of Central Missouri. This marks the shortest time the team has reached 10 wins in the past 10 years.
Head coach Dustin Combs says the team has been working on focus and forming a strong community.
“This year we have really focused on every detail of the game and working with intent. We have emphasized our culture and team chemistry. The work ethic overall has been really good in all aspects of preparing for this season,” said Combs.
He sees this year’s team chemistry as the biggest change from prior years.
“Without question the biggest change is this team truly cares about each other, the coaches and William Jewell College,” said Combs. “They have real energy and are having fun.”
Junior business administration major Anna Biondo is the leading pitcher with a record of 5-1 and a .83 Earned Run Average. She agrees with Combs’ ideas about focus and team chemistry.
“I think that our overall mentality and focus is really there this year. We have great team chemistry amongst all of the girls, which is a huge factor as to why we have done so well so far. I think that with everyone being all-in and wanting to win has really affected our season,” said Biondo.
Senior business administration, accounting and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry major Madison Giles is currently leading the team in runs, hits and doubles. She says this team has a high-energy culture.
“This year’s team is different than other years with our energy,” she said. “We work hard to have real energy in every game and every inning…it always gets us excited about our games when our fans have high energy as well,” said Giles.
Giles attributes the team’s successful start to the off-season work done by Combs and assistant softball coach Jeff Bower, as well as the work of strength and conditioning coach Gage Rosier and strength and conditioning graduate assistant Miles Clifton. She hopes the team will continue having successes throughout the season.
“We as seniors have been playing together for at least four years and have grown together to become a tight knit group of teammates. I would love for our senior class to go out with a bang and for all of us to have a successful season,” said Giles.
Combs emphasizes that the team’s success doesn’t stem from the success of individual players.
“Really there’s been someone different step up in every game that we’ve won this season,” said Combs. “We have had some really good pitching performances and gotten the big hits. We have had really good energy and that has won us some games when we weren’t at our best offensively.”
Looking forward, Combs hopes to make it past the post-season and the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament. To do this, the team has to perform well both conference games and keep performing well in both conference and non-conference games. All their games so far have been non-conference.
“We have to continue getting better every day. Our schedule is loaded. We have to continue to believe in each other and stay selfless,” said Combs.
The team begins conference play with their next game March 11 against Lewis University in Clermont, Fla.
Photo courtesy of Northern Illinois Athletics