Laela Minnich Sliding Into Second

Howard College's Laela Minnich slides safely into second with a double during the Lady Hawks' 14-6 win over Cisco early in the season. 

Softball season is now in full swing with teams across the nation starting up their schedules. Howard has begun their 2020 season on a hot streak that includes only one loss in their first 12 games. They have jumped up the polls through the first two weeks and are currently the sixth-ranked team in the nation.

“All-around I’m proud of how we’ve performed,” Howard Manager Kelly Raines said.

There are many things to like about this Howard Hawks softball team. They have the 2019 National Player of the Year returning and still slugging away from her shortstop position. There are also nine more sophomores comprising the roster who have plenty of big-game experience.

Howard has also been lighting up the scoreboards through their first dozen games. The Hawks have played five games where they have recorded double-digit runs scored and have a season-high of 18. Three players for the Hawks have hit six home runs through the first 12 games.

“Our hitting is pretty much our strength and we came out showing that,” Raines said. “We play some tough teams and to beat those teams is good.”

One of those players is freshman second baseman Barbora Saviola. In a team-leading 45 at-bats, Saviola has 19 hits and has scored 20 runs while also leading her squad in RBI (23).

Gonzalez currently has a batting average of .622 with 23 hits in 37 at-bats. She has also added six steals to her resume in the early part of the season. Last season’s NJCAA Player of the Year has picked up where she left off and is looking to be on the verge of another stellar season.

“Everybody is excited to see her play and it makes everyone else do better also,” Raines said. “She’s a great player and so far she’s off to a great start.”

Four pitchers have thrown for the Hawks this season. Marin Musicant is the sophomore veteran of the bunch and has an ERA of 2.60 through 35 innings pitched. Her freshman counterpart, Kirsten Martinez, has thrown 34 innings with an ERA of 3.71 and a perfect 6-0 record with four complete games pitched.

Even with the confidence and swagger that the Hawks pitching staff is playing with right now, Raines would like to continue to see improvement from the mound.

“You’ve always got to have your pitching be better,” Raines said. “I think we have a good pitching staff. We definitely need to have a pitching staff instead of one player.”

A dozen games have been played and the Hawks seem to be even more confident than they were during last year’s 46-11 campaign. With Raines at the helm, Howard has a strong skipper who can put her players in the best position to win.

With four games coming up this weekend, it will be a good test for the Hawks to get back on-track after their first loss of the season to Western Nebraska. With a solid showing, Howard could find themselves shooting up the polls even farther.

 UP NEXT: Howard plays a pair of games at Weatherford on Friday afternoon (2:00/4:00) and will host Ranger on Saturday (2:00/4:00).

 Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, email sports@bigspringherald.com or call 432-263-7331.

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