By Josh Dolmage
Staff reporter

Finishing fourth place in the KCAC standings is impressive, but this year’s Lady Builders softball team is looking to improve on that mark.  The Lady Builders finished with a 15-27 record last year and 5-11 in the KCAC.  “The team really came on strong at the end of the season,” said Amber Good, head coach.

This year’s team started the fall season right and they have already accomplished something that has not been done in seven years.  The Lady Builders defeated the Lady Tigers of Cowley College in the second game of a doubleheader Oct. 3 in Arkansas City.  “We should’ve won both, but we had some first game errors.  The ladies are working hard though,” said Good.  The Lady Builders were scheduled to play two more games against Cowley College this past Saturday, but due to the cold weather, the games were cancelled, ending the short fall season.

The fall season gives Good many chances to see what the team needs to work on before the spring season starts up.  “We can move players and see what other positions they are able to play.  We are also able to see what certain players need work on,” said Good.

Amanda Baughman and Taryn Ruud, graduates from last year’s team, will help Good this year with the girls.  “Amanda will help with the outfield and Taryn will assist with the pitchers,” said Good.

Although Baughman and Rudd have graduated, the Lady Builders have some key returners for the upcoming season.  Monica Sauber, senior utility player and Whitney Baker, senior first baseman, both received praise from Good.

Baker was the statistical leader on the team last year in many different categories.  While playing in 38 games, she led the team in batting average (.442), homeruns (7), doubles (8), runs batted in (33), slugging percentage (.735), and sacrifice flies (4).  “Baker is a silent leader.  She leads by example and is consistent in games,” said Good.

“I want to win every game.  With it being my senior year, I want to go out on top.  I think the girls are working hard and we have a good chance to be very good this year,” said Baker.

Sauber played in 42 games last season and hit for a .276 batting average.  She also was second on the team in doubles with seven, hit one homerun, and had 11 runs batted in.  “Sauber is a leader both on and off the field and always works really hard.  She is also a verbal leader,” said Good.

“The team is working very hard so far and we are all excited about the season.  It’s too bad that the Cowley games were cancelled.  I was really looking forward to playing them again.  It does give us a chance to work on the things we need to work on to get better.  We have a week off, then we get started again and I can’t wait,” said Sauber.

The Lady Builders will lose Baker, Sauber, and Michelle Dreiling, a utility player, to graduation after the season.  With a host of newcomers, the team is hoping to make some noise.  “We need to stay healthy and keep working.  Hopefully we will be at the top of the conference,” said Good.

Good said the conference is always pretty tough and she expects the Lady Builders to be in the upper half of the KCAC this season.  “Friends and Ottawa are always really good, but like I said, I expect to be near the top,” said Good.  The conference featured four teams that won at least 25 games last season and the top three teams (Friends, Bethany, and Ottawa) finished just two games apart.  Friends was able to capture the conference championship, Bethany finished one game back, and Ottawa finished two games back.

Along with the conference games, the Lady Builders will also be taking a trip to Austin this season during Spring Break.  The Lady Builders will play two games March 16 and two more games the following day against Concordia University.

The spring season starts up on Feb. 23 against Hillsdale in Moore, Okla.  The Lady Builders first home game is scheduled for March 9, also against Hillsdale.   “We’re going to take a week off and then start practicing and conditioning for the spring season,” said Good.

Josh Dolmage is a junior majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at josh.dolmage@sckans.edu.