By Lance Jordan, Sports Editor
In the annual Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Softball Preseason Poll, the University of Missouri–St. Louis softball team was picked for a third place finish for the 2017 season.
The Tritons went out to prove why they ranked so high in the GLVC Poll, from February 3 to 5. The Tritons faced six teams as part of the Gulf Coast Invitational at Gulf Shores Sportsplex in Gulf Shores, Alabama. At the end of the weekend, the Tritons held a 3-3 record to start off their 2017 season.
The Tritons’ first match up of the day on February 3 was against the Delta State University Statesmen. In the first inning, neither team scored. UMSL’s first run of the game came on a home run from Alex Stupek, senior, nursing, at the top of the second inning. Serena Olson, sophomore, accounting, scored UMSL their second run with a home run to left center at the top of the third. Delta State still struggled to score as the teams moved into the fifth inning. UMSL scored two runs at the top of the fifth inning as Delta State finally got on the board with three runs. Unfortunately for Delta, those were the only runs the team could accumulate. The Tritons scored one more run in the seventh inning, winning the match up 5-3.
Later that day, UMSL faced off against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers who were able to defeat the Tritons 11-5. The Chargers led in the first inning with three uncontested runs. It wasn’t until Jennah Perryman, junior, liberal arts, hit a ground ball in the top of the second inning, which led Sara Kern, senior, business marketing, to score for UMSL. UMSL would then score two runs to tie the game up at the top of third. However after failing to gain a run at the top of the first, the Chargers gained two runs at the bottom of the fourth to gain a two-run lead. But it didn’t stop there, despite the Tritons gaining two runs to tie the game once again at the top of the fifth. The Tritons could not stop the Chargers’ next six runs at the bottom of the fifth. No one scored during the sixth inning, and UMSL could not gain a run in the seventh to rally back into the match up, making their record 1-1 at the end of day one.
On day two, February 3, the Tritons dominated both of their opponents in impressive fashion. For three innings, UMSL went uncontested against the Miles College Golden Bears, scoring four runs in the first, one in the second, and one in the third. Miles’ first and only run of the game came in the fourth. The game ended in the fifth with UMSL scoring another three runs to close the match up 9-1.
During game two, UMSL faced the Barry University Buccaneers for five innings. Similar to Miles College, Barry was only able to score one run. That run would come in the second inning after UMSL already accumulated five runs in the bottom of the first. The Tritons continued their impressive display all the way to a 10-1 win over Barry. During the game, Stupek set a record as the all-time career leader in runs scored with a total of 139, passing former record holder Jena Boudreau.
In the final day of the Gulf Coast Invitational on February 4, UMSL would face their final two opponents, the West Florida Argonauts, and first-ranked team in the division, the North Alabama Lions. First up against West Florida, the Tritons faced a massive setback. In the five innings, not one run was scored against West Florida, who racked up nine points. However, this did not discourage the Tritons in their final match up against North Alabama. The Lions, the defending NCAA DII national champions took a 3-0 lead after two innings. Innings three and four saw both teams come up short in runs. But a home run by Anne Kroeger, freshman, pre-dental, at the bottom of the fifth showed that the Tritons still had a fight in them. At the top of the sixth, North Alabama was able to add one run to their score, making it a three-run lead. However, Serena Olson, sophomore, accounting, was able to deliver a long ball with a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth, tying the game 4-4. Although it was still anyone’s game at the top of the seventh, North Alabama was able to hit a solo home run that would end up being the game-winning point.
It was an impressive season debut for the UMSL softball team, who as of this article stands with a 3-3 record. The Tritons faced four teams in Bentonville, Arkansas on February 10 and February 11 in the Arkansas-Monticello DII Challenge.
Friday February 10, the Tritons suffered a minor setback in the first match up of the day against Harding University with a 2-1 loss, UMSL would however close out the day with a 2-1 victory over Henderson State.
Saturday February 11, the tritons opened day two of the Arkansas-Monticello DII Challenge with a 2-0 victory over Arkansas Tech and finished the day with a 12-9 victory over the hosting team Arkansas-Monticello. As of Saturday’s game UMSL now stands with a 6-4 overall record for the season.