The Griffon softball season is coming to a close as Western prepares to welcome the Central Oklahoma Bronchos to the Spring Sports Complex.
UCO and Western double-header will be the last two games of the regular season.
The Bronchos are 36-12 overall and 19-3 in MIAA play. They have also claimed a permanent spot in the MIAA tournament. UCO currently sits in second place in the MIAA standings.
Head Coach Jen Bagley is excited for the upcoming matchup and believes that the Griffons are ready.
“UCO is the defending national champions,” Bagley said. “It is unbelievable that we are at the final conference weekend. I feel that our team is at an exciting place. We aren’t waiting for another team to lose. We just have to take care of business.”
Catcher Kat Steponovich has faith in the Griffons going into the matchup
“I have a lot of respect for the UCO softball program,” Steponovich said. “They’ve always been a tough opponent but I think its important to keep in mind that we are a tough opponent, for others as well. I have faith in my team to control and play them as we should”
Western is at a 31-15 overall record and 14-8 in MIAA play. In the MIAA standings Western is currently ranked third, directly behind UCO.
All of the Griffons have agreed that UCO is a powerhouse team with solid hitting and great pitching. But Western pitcher Jackie Bishop has only one concern.
“I looked at their pitchers stats and she’s almost identical to me. It’s like looking in a mirror!” Bishop said. “It’s going to be a tough game.”
Although the Bronchos have only lost three-conference games, infielder Taylor Anding feels that playing UCO so late in the season is an advantage for the Griffons.
“They will probably be one of the best teams we have played this season,” Anding said. “However, playing them so late in the season might be an advantage, because we have been able to practice and adequately prepare for what have been their strengths all season.”
The UCO game is huge for Bishop, Steponovich, Anding, Michelle Stevenson and Sydney McCune especially. It will be their final regular season double-header for Griffons. Even though the MIAA tournament is right around the corner from the UCO double header, the soon-to-be graduates are still feeling the effects of their careers coming to an end at Western.
“This season has flown by,” Bishop said. “Knowing there’s no more ‘one more season’ for me to play is very sad, but I couldn’t have asked for more than my four years at Western, I have loved it.”
Anding has expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to take the field with the team that she considers her sisters.
“The girls that I have had the privilege of playing with have changed my life,” Anding said, “I also have two coaches that I consider my moms away from home. They have been awesome coaches when it came to making me a better softball player and overall person”
Bagley feels that this season’s team is full of spirit and drive
“This is a really great group of young ladies,” Bagley said, “We have the right kind of leadership in our seniors. They are savoring every moment and not wanting it to end. That is a powerful motivator. With that kind of mentality, good things will happen.”
The Griffons will take on the Bronchos of UCO on Apr. 26. First pitch is scheduled for noon.