Story by Sam Kaser, Staff Writer
Image courtesy of aqsaints.com
The grass is becoming greener, and to the Aquinas Softball team that means it’s time to begin the regular season.
The Saints are off to a hot start to the 2017-18 campaign, going 20-8 in their first 28 contests. The winning record still remains at 42, set in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, but the girls are gunning for that mark with earnest. Spring Break found the squad in Tucson, Ariz. to play 15 games in six days in an invitational tournament. The group tallied 12 wins in that stretch, and come home to Grand Rapids ready to continue their winning ways.
The team brings three seniors to the plate this year in Alex Forsythe, Brooke Senkbeil and Morgan Giddings. Forsythe has logged a .341 batting average over her 28 regular season games (excluding the Tucson Invitational), with 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Senkbeil, who rotates between outfield and catcher in the field, will look to improve upon her already impressive .298 batting average as the season rolls on. Giddings, the team’s starting third baseman, has put up an solid .326 average, with 24 RBIs and eight doubles.
Along with core senior leadership doing their part, second year head coach Brad Koch continues to instill his winning mentality early in his tenure. After beginning his time with the program in 2008, Koch has worked his way to becoming the bench boss for the Saints. He has posted an incredible 55-21-1 record over his year and a half at the helm.
Alongside Coach Koch are assistants Jim Elliott and Jacki Plough, both in their ninth season. Mel Shephard enters her second season with the program, while Robert Dunham and Todd Johnston find themselves behind the bench for the first time at Aquinas.
Looking at the year ahead for the team, they were ranked in the preseason as the number one team in their division, and will seek realization on that mark with a talented group. Conference play begins on March 31 as the team will travel southeast to take on Rochester College. They will have a lengthy home stand in mid-April, as they host four teams for eight games in total.
The season looks bright for Koch’s group, and the start has been everything it needs to be in order to search for that elusive 43rd win. With a strong core of leadership, and a confident group altogether, anything is possible for this year’s team.