The weather couldn’t be more favorable for a weekend of collegiate softball at the Gloria Rodriguez field on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado. The melodic chants echoed from the dugouts during every at-bat. Parents and fans filled the small bleachers, and grass hill behind home plate to take in the round robin tournament hosted by the Bears.
The Northern Colorado Classic softball tournament was hosted by UNC on the weekend of March 6-8. The UNC Bears were joined by the softball teams from Northern Iowa University, Utah Valley University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Ben Garcia, second year head coach at UNC, talked about the importance of performing well on their home field.
“Its great momentum, especially getting ready for league games,” Garcia said.
The Bears started the weekend on Friday with a 9-0 loss to Utah Valley, but followed up with a walk-off single from freshman Amanda Hedges to beat Nebraska-Omaha 2-1. Garcia was intrigued to see how his team would respond after a disappointing start to the tournament.
“It shows a lot of character to be able to come back and win after a game like that,” Garcia said.
The Bears continued on Saturday with a double header against the Northern Iowa Panthers and the Utah Valley Wolverines. UNC freshman pitcher Erin Caviness had a stellar performance from the stripe by allowing only two runs on three hits, and an impressive six strikeouts.
“She’s really stepped up in our pitching staff,” Garcia said. “She has built herself up and refuses to get beat.”
The Bears put up three runs in the bottom of the third inning with swings from freshman Lauren Strathearn, junior Mady Young, and freshman Reyna Caudillo. Northern Iowa only managed to score two more runs and surrendered one additional run to the Bears.
After a brief intermission, the Bears retook the field to face off against the Utah Valley Wolverines. After tying the game at one-a-piece in the third inning, the Bears scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to walks by freshman Bridgette Strobl and sophomore Brandi Haller followed by a single from freshman outfielder Alyssa Wenzel. The Bears would go on to win the game 7-2.
The Bears took the field one final time for the weekend on Sunday as they faced off against Nebraska-Omaha and Amanda Eberhart, their second year head coach. UNC Pitcher Erin Caviness got the start and looked to build on her success from Saturday. Caviness finished the day by allowing only one run on four hits.
Meanwhile, the bats were swinging fast and often for the Bears as the team quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two innings. The Bears’ outfielder Lauren Strathearn and junior infielder Mady Young led the team with three runs-batted-in respectively. Many of the Bears hits came in tough two-out situations and Garcia spoke about success in those spots.
“We had a lot of big situations with two outs and we came through,” Garcia said. “We are getting a little bit more character and experience.”
The Bears would go on to run rule the Mavericks in the bottom of the fifth after a bases clearing triple from Lauren Strathearn. Garcia provided some takeaways for his team after finishing the home stand with a 4-1 record. These included an emphasis on playing defense and getting pitching.
The Bears now stand with a record of 10 wins and 15 losses as they now prepare to hit the road. The Bears will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska next weekend to take on Big Sky opponent North Dakota and Big Ten powerhouse Nebraska.
For more information on future games visit https://uncbears.com/sports/softball.