NIACC softball team opens league play

OSKALOOSA - The NIACC softball team opens ICCAC play on Friday against Iowa Central at William Penn University.

Game times for the twinbill are set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Wet fields at NIACC and Iowa Central forced the doubleheader to be moved to William Penn.

"The weather is the weather," first-year NIACC coach Dan Gratz said. "We live in North Iows so dealing with it is just part of what we do.

"Our kids have done a great job being flexible and balancing essentially two full months of travel with their academics. We will keep battling and play the game we love whenever we get the chance."

NIACC (9-13) enters league play with some lofty offensive numbers. The Lady Trojans have a team batting average of .401 (11th in NJCAA Division II) and slugging percentage of .630 (6th in NJCAA Division II).

The Lady Trojans have hit 22 home runs and 67 doubles and have accumulated 84 stolen bases.

"Offensively, I thought we held up well," Gratz said of the 22-game non-conference schedule. "Both overall and per game, we are putting up big-time numbers - right up there with the best teams in the country.

"Our pitching and defense made great strides from game 1 to game 22 and will continue to get better."

Sophomore Morgan Thesing-Ritter leads the Lady Trojan offense with a .526 batting average. She has 28 stolen bases with six doubles, four triples and three home runs.

Sophomore Courtney Johannes leads the way with 35 RBIs and 16 doubles. Kaci Sherwood leads the team with seven home runs.

In its first 22 games, Gratz said the Lady Trojans played a "good mix of teams."

"We played some of the best teams in the country," he said, "to see where we stand. That will be a consistent pattern in the years to come.

"In playing those teams, we found out we can compete at the highest level, which was the goal. We want to put ourselves against top competition as much as possible to continue to elevate our level of play."

Now, the Lady Trojans embark on a 24-game league schedule in a short amount of time. The NJCAA Region XI tournament is set for May 4-6.

In the latest NJCAA Division II poll, DMACC is ranked No. 2, Kirkwood is No. 3 and Iowa Central is receiving votes.

"We are excited for the challenge of our conference schedule will give us," Gratz said. "This is the best juco conference in the country.

"At some point this season, we have had six of our current conference (Division I and II) softball teams ranked in the top 20 or receiving votes. Essentially, you are playing a high-caliber team every week or multiple times a week in some cases. It doesn't get any better than that."






No. 1 DMACC sweeps NIACC
April 22, 2018 No. 1 DMACC sweeps NIACC
Indian Hills sweeps NIACC
March 19, 2018 Indian Hills sweeps NIACC
NIACC splits pair of games
February 25, 2018 NIACC splits pair of games
NIACC splits pair with Viterbo
February 16, 2018 NIACC splits pair with Viterbo