SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Augustana softball team finished the weekend with 4-2 record, earning them second place in the NSIC tournament.
“We had a good weekend and obviously we made it to the championship game and when you get to that point, I’ll be honest with you there is a lot of strategizing on are you going to let them see your pitchers or not, are you going to do something different or what,” Augustana head coach Gretta Melsted said. “We knew going into the NSIC that we had a really good shot at making the regional tournament.”
Following a 44-6 season, the Vikings earned the number one seed in the Central Regional and this year, that means a first round bye.
“Normally, that’s not how it works. Normally you have two four team regionals and then a super regional,” Melsted said. “It’s a completely different format and that is important because it means one less game, that you have to play to get to that championship series.”
Augustana has been led by their hitting this season as they led the NSIC in home runs (61) and finished second in team average (.338), total runs (319) and runs batted in (284).
“All year long, we’re on the hitting building, we’re on the field, we’re taking time outside of practice and preparing for different pitchers,” Augustana junior Amanda Dickmeyer said. “Our coaching staff does a wonderful job of scouting. A lot of the times, we know a lot of what the pitchers are going to be throwing and we’re just constantly in the hitting building just working on things like that.”
The Vikings are the NCAA Division II softball defending champions as they won the National Championship back in 2019, but this year’s team is keeping their focus on 2021.
“We phrase it as instead of defending, we’re attacking a new one. The way we like to think about it is no one can ever take that away from us, so this is a new opportunity for us,” Dickmeyer said. “There is always that added pressure when everyone really wants you to lose, but we see that as a privilege to have that pressure. We just roll with the punches and attack a new day.”
“We are technically the defending national champions, but that was two years ago. We’re not thinking about that, it’s not in the forefront of our minds,” Melsted said. “If it is in our opponents and that makes a bigger target on our back, then so be it. That’s not how we look at this. We look at this as it is a normal year and as Amanda said, we are attacking to get to the national championship.”
Augustana is less than 24 hours from playing in their first game of this year’s NCAA tournament. While the team has high expectations, coach Melsted is just hoping her team enjoys the moment.
“I want them to enjoy every moment of being down here. I want them to enjoy the ride and have fun with their friends. I want them to soak it in and make it be a lifelong positive memory for the rest of their lives,” Melsted said.
The Vikings will meet Southern Arkansas on Thursday, May 20 in Edmund, Oklahoma. First pitch is set for noon.
You can watch the game on the MIAA Network streaming page.