The Calm Before The Storm

By Jacob Dowell

May 5, 2014

  Missouri Western’s softball team is gearing up to face a fierce rival in Northeastern State University at home Friday, on April 25. The double-header, with games at 4:oo p.m. and 6:00 p.m., will be a tough fight for the team. Tiffany Gillaspy, junior infielder, is both cautious and optimistic about Northeastern. “They are a scrappy team, and we can’t take them lightly,” Gillaspy said. “We really need to hit the ball well.” Jennifer Bagley, softball's head coach, is treating the opposing Northeastern squad with respect. “This is their second year with their new coach and they are hitting the ball pretty well," Bagley said. As far as  Western’s strategy goes, Bagley is confident in what needs to be done. “We need to get our pitches effective, take care of the ball, maintain good defense and score with the runners we have in scoring position, which is a something we haven’t done all season,” Bagley said. Jackie Bishop, senior pitcher, has a few personal goals she is setting for the Northeastern squad. “I need to focus on hitting my targets and making sure my ball is perfect,” Bishop said. Following the double header with Northeastern, Western will face off against the University of Central Oklahoma for another double-header at home on Saturday, April 26, at noon and 2 p.m. Bagley's only concern, as small as it is, is thinking about playing Central Oklahoma, a team sitting at second in the standings, before playing Northeastern. “We can’t overlook Northeastern by thinking about Central Oklahoma,” Bagley said. Following the game against Central Oklahoma, Western’s next game will be the in the MIAA tournament, unless a catastrophic event in the standings occurs. The MIAA tournament will start on Thursday, May 1, in Overland Park, Kan,, with the top eight teams in the MIAA making it in. Western is currently third in the MIAA standings, while Northeastern is back in the eighth position. Only first-place Emporia State University, Central Oklahoma and fourth-place Fort Hays State University have clinched a spot in the MIAA postseason tournament, which is leaving Western hungry for a win against Fort Hays State in the standings. Northeastern will be playing with more drive on Friday as well due to conference standings. Currently placed in the eighth  position, they would be the final team to make into the tournament, and a loss could drop them into ninth position. The confidence for a postseason run is high by Gillaspy's standards. “We should be fine in the tournament,” Gillaspy said. “We are a completely different team than we were last year.” Being in the final game in the MIAA is key for Western. “We need to play on the final day for a regional bid,” Bagley said regarding the NCAA tournament following the MIAA tournament.