By Harry Lipsiea
After a historic inaugural season, the Lake Region State College softball program is back on the diamond and eager to keep making strides.
By Harry Lipsiea
After a historic inaugural season, the Lake Region State College softball program is back on the diamond and eager to keep making strides. With a strong core of returning athletes and a promising freshmen class, the team has no reason to be anything but optimistic.
A season ago, the squad notched nine wins including eight conference victories. Now, the team is looking to rise in the conference and region standings.
To help do that, Lake Region State College has been extremely busy this spring. The Royals have gotten off to a busy start with 14 games already under their belt. During a road trip to Arizona, the squad played eight contests against seasoned teams with plenty of season experience already under their belts.
While the Royals fell in all eight games, head coach Kory Boehmer saw an improvement in the team's performance compared to a similar road trip last season.
"I felt we really competed in a lot more games that we played this time," he told the Journal. "The teams we have played down there have established programs and have been competing all winter. It was excellent competition and I think it was a positive experience for our players."
Last weekend, LRSC then traveled to Minneapolis for a jamboree. The Royals picked up their first victory of the season with a 16-15 nod over NDSCS. Ultimately, the second-year program went 1-3 falling to Madison College, Iowa Central Community College and Des Moine Area Community College.
On Tuesday, Lake Region State College lost 7-6 and 15-3 at the hands of University of Jamestown JV on the road.
It all serves as good experience as the Royals prepare for the MonDak Conference season. The team opens conference play Friday in Minneapolis against Dakota County Technical College. Lake Region State College will play the squad four times Friday and Saturday. The team will play Bismarck State College April 8 and 9 for four conference games. The April 9 contests will serve as the Royals' home opener.
"Getting out to a strong start will be huge for us," Boehmer stated. "I believe us, Bismarck State College and Dakota County Technical College are pretty even and really battle throughout the season. Those first few games are extremely important."
The coaching staff has been happy with how practice has gone to this point. It's a hard-working group of athletes, Boehmer added.
"It's been. going really well," he stated. "We have seen improvement since we first started practice. The players don't whine or complain, they just keep working and do what it takes to be successful."
The Royals return five sophomores back to the roster. Catcher Rebecca Gurski and outfielder Samone Motley are returning All-Conference and All-Region picks. Other starters who will again be in action are first baseman Jenny Mertens, outfielder Morgan Titus and middle infielders Brianne Hunt.
"All five of our sophomores were starters and main players for us last season," Boehmer stated. "It's a very strong group of college players who bring good experience to the table."
Freshmen who have stepped in and made an immediate impact are Courtney Fines, Kiahna Chumola, Alaina McKinnon, Georgia LaGore, Ranae Fafard and Devils Lake native Madison Eriksson.
"Our freshmen have done a nice job,' Boehmer commented. "They have come in, worked very hard and added a lot to the team."
Williston State College and Dawson Community College look to be favorites in the Mon-Dak Conference. Don't, however, overlook the Royals, the coach pointed out.
"I think we can surprise teams," he said.
"If we play fundamentally sound, our pitchers keep the ball low and get timely hits, we will be fine."
It's been a tremendous group of student athletes to work with this season, Boehmer stated.
"They are great," he complimented.
"These players are always pleasant and always ready to work hard. It makes it a lot of fun to coach."