Four top teams in the formerly pitching-heavy Ohio Valley Conference lost their ace pitchers after the 2017 season. Among that quartet of programs is Murray State, who said goodbye to Mason Robinson last season.
“You love having players like [Robinson], who do the things she has done the last few years, but you need nine or ten people to play a game, and having all of those pieces is something we work really hard to do.”
That was head coach Kara Amundson’s take on losing her ace in the circle, but the Racers lost more than just their top pitcher; Amundson’s squad said goodbye to seven seniors in all, including Robinson and offensive great Jessica Twaddle.
“She had to reinvent herself from her freshman to senior year,” said Amundson of Twaddle, who will be the Racers’ volunteer assistant coach in 2018. “Every single year, [Twaddle] did above and beyond what anybody was expecting from her, and even sometimes what she expected from herself.”
Twaddle hit .390 in 2017 and clubbed fourteen home runs, nearly doubling the season high of her nearest teammate. The hard-hitting infielder’s graduation leaves a gaping hole in the Racer batting order.
For Amundson, she says she knows some may expect her team to falter as they search for a new identity, but she has faith in her present “cast of characters”.
Entering her sixth year as the Racers’ head coach, Amundson expects a strong year from senior Haven Campbell in the circle for her squad. “She knows what it takes to win,” Amundson said of Campbell. “She is super capable of being a big-time pitcher for us.”
With the departure of her leading home run hitter from a season ago, Amundson doesn’t expect a lot of long-balls from her team. “Speed and the short game are a big strength. When the power comes, then we can take advantage of it.”
The Racers added seven freshmen this summer, as well as former Louisville player Lillie Goetz. Amundson’s squad will look to build on a 2017 season where they posted a 36-20 record and were invited to the inaugural softball NIT tournament, the National Invitational Softball Championship.
“There’s nothing in my mind that says we can’t go out and compete right away,” said Amundson. “Nothing in my mind, with what I know we have and are capable of.”