Working as a team with a competitive edge is the path to victory.
Webster University’s softball team, which is ranked second in preseason polls for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), ended its 2021 season with 21 wins and 12 losses. Now, with 10 new players to the roster and returning six starters from last year, the team hopes to prove the rankings wrong.
Coming out of its spring break series in Georgia and its first conference matchup against Fontbonne University, Webster softball players are working toward a second consecutive conference title. Arianna Arias, senior pitcher, said the team this year is really competitive. According to Arias, when the team is on the field, it gets down to business.
“One of the big things for us is that we trust each other,” Arias said. “That trust is going to lead us a long way. We are looking pretty good moving forward.”
The Gorloks are currently 4-9. Arias pitched for three of those wins. Out of her 22 innings pitched (IP) this season, Arias had 31 hits allowed, 23 runs allowed and eight strikeouts.
Arias said if the team just keeps competing and doesn’t lose the fire players have right now, they will get more wins. According to her, a big part of the energy comes from the newcomers this year.
“Our entire team has a lot of character, especially these freshmen,” Arias said. “They show up and they show out. I would say that has been the biggest thing for me this season.”
Arias, now in her fourth year on the softball team, said the team now is more competitive than it was her freshman year. She said one of the biggest changes was having Katie Griffith take over the head coach position after Arias’ freshman year.
This season will mark Griffith’s fourth year as head coach for Webster softball. She is the fifth head coach in program history.
Under her leadership, the team won its first SLIAC Tournament Championship and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Regional Tournament appearance since 2009. Before coming to Webster, she worked with the National Pitching Association and the Gateway Grizzlies. The Grizzlies play for the Frontier League, which is an independent professional league.
Sheyla Iniguez, senior infielder, said it is nice learning from all of Griffith’s experiences. Along with this, Iniguez enjoys how all the coaches play a key part in the team.
“Our coaches are really cool,” Iniguez said. “We brought on a new coach this year who just got out of college. It’s a really cool experience because she is so close to our age and can relate to us. Then [Griffith] will talk about her college experience and how different it was. Then our other coaches are amazing for our infield. It is just a very good atmosphere.”
Iniguez currently has 15 hits and 12 runs scored this season out of her 39 at bats (AB). She said the team’s spring break series in Georgia helped improve the players’ chemistry heading into SLIAC play. According to her, the most important part of the trip was actually growing closer as a team rather than the games.
While in Georgia for spring break, the Gorloks played a few teams that are usually ranked in the nation, such as Covenant College, Transylvania University and Piedmont University. The team also played at Emory University while in Georgia. The team went 1-6 in these matchups. However, Iniguez said it was a great opportunity for the team to build upon.
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but we learned a lot about ourselves,” Iniguez said. “In the past three years, these teams were ranked from No. 2 to No. 14. We learned to trust ourselves and our abilities.”
Arias said from her freshman season to now, with a switch in coaching staff and new players, the team has grown more competitive.
“Our first year, honestly, we were just trying to get by and get a few wins,” Arias said. “This year, we set a lot of goals we have already achieved. Our level of competitiveness has gotten better.”
One of those goals was being competitive against a ranked team. According to Arias, when the team played at its best, it only lost by one point against these top 25 teams.
Arias said she is not too worried about the other teams in the conference. She believes if the team continues to be competitive, it will go a long way. “We were able to play some of the top teams in the country and were competitive against them,” Arias said. “I don’t think other teams in our conference will stand a chance.
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Kaelin Triggs (he/him) has been a part of The Journal since 2019. He is a journalism major pursuing a career in sports writing. He also runs for Webster's track and cross country team, and he enjoys playing piano and hanging out with friends and family.