SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana softball is back in the College World Series after the Vikings knocked off NSIC foe MSU Mankato in the Central Region Final on Saturday. With last year’s season cut short, the Vikings are still technically the reigning national champions, but they aren’t focusing on defending that title, but rather winning another one.
Augustana softball is two years removed from winning its second national championship.
“We don’t see ourselves as defending the national championship. We see ourselves as we’re going to get another one. We’re in that attack mentality. You know nobody is standing in our way. We aren’t defending anything. We’re going and getting another one,” Senior Kendall Cornick said.
Eight players from that 2019 team remain on the roster and that experience has proven invaluable.
“When we are put in that region final game, or those tough situations you know where we have to come from behind, I feel like we’re able to take a deep breath and be like, hey we’ve been here before. It’s ok we’re going to do it and I think that just helps us so much,” Cornick said.
There’s a few difference between this year’s team and the 2019 one.
“You know we have a lot of speed throughout our entire lineup. We had speed last time but we have more speed this time. We still have power and we still have the pitching. There are similarities but we also have our own little twist on it too,” Head Coach Gretta Melsted said.
Augie’s approach at the plate has adapted over the season.
“Our first probably 25 to 30 games, we were playing in winds that were probably 25 to 30 miles per hour blowing in. When you have a power team that’s tough,” Melsted said.
That’s allowed their offense to become even more multidimensional.
“We talk about that whether that’s with the long ball. We talk about whether that’s base hitting people to death as how we use it, or whether that’s with short game with bunting and steals,” Melsted said.
All of that combined has helped get the Vikings back to the College World Series with another national championship in its sights.
“We had to come from behind and win, extra innings, we really got to do it all this week. So it was good to do that and bring that confidence that we can win in any way into the national tournament,” Senior Pitcher Ashley Mickschl said.
Augustana opens the College World Series on Thursday as they’ll face Valdosta State in their opening game. First pitch is set for noon.