The Griffons travel to St. Cloud, Minnesota, for the NSIC/MIAA Crossover on Thursday to improve their 5-4 record before beginning conference play.
Previously, Western played in the 8-State Classic where they won two games against Truman State and Quincy University and lost two games to Minnesota Duluth and Southern Arkansas.
On Thursday, the Griffons kick off the Crossover with a morning game against the Concordia University Golden Bears and a night game against the Minnesota State Mavericks.
Western goes on to play the Augustana College Vikings during day two of the tournament.
This will be the first time the Griffons have faced the Vikings since their one-run loss to Augustana in the NCAA Regional Tournament, and the players, including second basemen Tiffany Gillaspy, are ready for a little pay back.
“The game is very important, I’m out for blood and I know the girls that played last year are out for blood,” Gillaspy said. “We’ve told the freshman and they know how that [game] ended last year in the regional tournament, so I think it’s really important.”
The feelings toward Augustana are mutual throughout the coaching staff, including to head coach Jen Bagley-Trotter.
“Augustana has kind of proven to be our nemesis here in the last year or two,” Bagley-Trotter said. “There isn’t a freshman on the team who doesn’t know what is expected of them in that game, so it’ll be fun.”
To wrap up the tournament, Western faces the Wayne State Wildcats and the hosting St. Cloud Huskies.
During last year’s Crossover, the Griffons managed to leave the tournament with a 3-1 record including a 1-3 loss to the Vikings and an 11-0 win over the tournament host, St. Cloud.
After suffering a couple large margin losses, coach Bagley-Trotter knows they need to improve in all areas of the game in order to be successful for the rest of the season.
“We need to do a better job of playing all three facets of the game well for seven innings and then multiply that by however many games we play in a weekend,” Bagley-Trotter said.
According to Gillaspy, these pre-conference tournaments are critical for team improvement.
“We have a lot of young players and it helps them get experience and get comfortable,” Gillaspy said. “Down the road the experience they are getting right now is going to help us during conference play and at the MIAA Tournament.”
The Griffons will prepare for a successful tournament and the possibility of revenge as the Crossover begins on Thurs. Feb 19, and continues through Sat. Feb 21.