Northwest softball won five of six games at the Emporia State University Classic Feb. 18-20 and is now preparing for the Washburn Invitational Feb. 24-26.
Senior infielder Aubrey Griffith said the team was ready to play softball after taking the jitters out of their systems in their first outing Feb. 3-4 in Minnesota.
“I think going into this tournament, we’ve gone into a mindset of whatever happens, happens – in a good way,” said Griffith. “We played loose, we played fast, we played hard and this time we were much more relaxed.”
In the Washburn Invitational, the ‘Cats (6-4) will play against two teams Northwest has never played: Missouri-St. Louis (3-3) 6pm February 24 and University of Mary (2-5) 9:30 February 26. They will play Southwest Minnesota State (0-0) for the second time ever at 5:30pm Feb. 25, as well as two familiar teams, Wayne State (0-4) 11:30 a.m. Feb. 25 and Rockhurst (2-2) 3:30 p.m. Feb. 26.
All of Northwest’s games for the Washburn Invitational will take place at the exact venue where the ESU Classic was held in Topeka, Kansas. Head coach Naomi Tellez said she was happy to be able to play in the same place two weekends in a row.
“It’s great because we’re playing the exact same complex we were at last weekend,” Tellez said. “Nothing will be a surprise.”
Griffith led the way for the Bearcats during the ESU Classic, going 10-for-19 (.526) with one home run, six RBI, three doubles and five runs scored. Griffith leads the team in batting average (.517), hits (15), on-base percentage (.576) and slugging percentage (.724) this season. He said being on the road can be an advantage.
“We create a really good culture when we’re on the road,” Griffith said. “We’ve created a lot of good memories and a lot of team bonding, and I think that in turn makes us play better, by staying close to each other and playing to the best of our ability this coming weekend.”
Northwest has perfected its offense, as the team was able to hang an average of 7.2 rushes per game this past weekend.
Tellez said he wants the team to keep moving in the right direction offensively leading up to the Washburn Invitational.
“Obviously, we’ve left some riders out there,” Tellez said. “We were able to push hard enough to win matches, but our attack was really consistent.”
Northwest looking to brush up offensively and defensively this week in practice, gearing up for game one against Missouri-St. Louis February 24th.
Following the successful weekend, the Bearcats are No. 3 in the MIAA in batting average as a team (.316) and No. 5 in the conference in fielding percentage (.970). Tellez said the key is to stay focused.
“I’m just sticking to our game plan,” Tellez said. “From a hitting standpoint, staying within ourselves, and from a pitching standpoint, working in front of hitters and locating our balls a little better will definitely help us this coming weekend.”