The Columbia College softball team is making its mark on the NAIA national scene by taking on the country’s best.
The No. 7 Cougars have beaten two top-20 teams. The team took third in the Gulf Coast Invitational in Orange Beach, Ala., losing to the teams that finished first and second. The tournament was an invitational for the top 25 teams in the nation.
Coach Wendy Spratt has been coaching the Cougars since 1995 and continues her strong leadership this season. After finishing fifth in the NAIA tournament last year, the highest finish ever, the team is 6-4 this season.
Spratt said the team’s schedule is tougher this season than in the past. Although she typically finds the toughest opponents she can, this year has been especially competitive.
By playing a schedule dominated with top-tier teams, the Cougars are preparing for the competition they will face in the postseason. Spratt said that when you know you’re playing the best and you beat them, the wins are sweeter than when beating average teams. She said beating the best makes your team better.
“We’ve set our goals to win the regular-season conference, conference tournament, regional tournament and national tournament,” Spratt said. “Last year we finished fifth (in the nation), and we certainly want to finish higher than that this season.”
The Cougars return senior Monica Mueller, who was the 2004 American Midwest Conference and Region 5 pitcher of the year. Although All-American catcher Amy Seipp graduated, two newcomers join the team with experience behind the plate. Freshman Sara Moreau has done most of the work defensively, learning to handle Mueller and becoming accustomed to the pitches and attitude of the pitcher.
Spratt points to sophomore transfer Marcy Dotson as the exciting player to watch this season. She usually plays designated hitter and hit .529 in the first five games.
Spratt is optimistic about this team’s chances of achieving its goals. Columbia College boasts a long line of highly competitive softball teams, and this year will likely be no different. She said not only is the talent there, the team’s attitude is conducive to big wins.
“I have better team chemistry with this team than I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Spratt said. “And that says a lot.”
The Cougars will host AMC rival Missouri Baptist in their home opener today at 2 p.m. at the Cougar softball field.