Currently third in the MIAC conference with 23 wins, 11 losses and six conference games to go until playoffs, the softball team practices and plays on a foundation of positivity, empowerment and fun.  Three years into being head coach at St. Olaf, Kayla Hatting stresses the importance of not only being a good player but a good person. Coaching on the philosophy of empowerment and being a good person on and off the field, Hatting has created a team environment that reflects the team’s success.

“We’re a pretty loose, sarcastic, funny team. We like to laugh, we like to joke around with each other and that’s when we play our best,” Hatting said.

As the softball team approaches the end of the regular season and hopefully the postseason, keeping the atmosphere light but intense seems to be the balance they have perfected. Despite the four 5:15 a.m. workouts each week, the team keeps motivated through each other.

“We work really, really hard. We’re just so excited to get better and to be together,” Pitcher and Outfielder Carly Dammann ’19 said. “The will to win and the love of the game keeps us going, the hype on the bench and in the dugout is unreal, it’s so fun. And if something happens we always bounce back and we bounce back together.”

Hatting and Assistant Coach Shae Hoskins coordinate practices ahead of time to prepare for the next game while trying to stay fresh. They attempt to simulate as much of the game as possible while working individually on the things they need to improve.

As they prepare for games, the coaching staff scouts the opposing team to anticipate the type of pitches and hits the team will see come gameday. However intense a practice may be, the coaching staff aims to create an environment where student athletes can destress.

“I try to keep on the schedule as much as possible knowing they have stressful lives,” Hatting said. “My goal is to have practice be a destressor. Drop everything off at the gates and destress.”

For the first time in Hatting’s time at St. Olaf, there is senior athletes on the team. With many upperclassmen and eight first-years, the team dynamic has become inseparable.

“I love it. It’s like a family here. It is just like your family is right here on campus with you. I’m not sure where I would be without them,” Outfielder Tarah DeCroock said. “The upperclassmen are so supportive and encouraging and bring a lot of confidence to the team.”

As the seniors close out their final season, Hatting hopes to have accomplished her main goal of empowering them.

“My biggest job and goal is to be a positive role model and to empower them. I want to teach them that you can be a strong woman in this world, wherever it is,” Hatting said. “I want them to be great, powerful young women out in the real world.”

The team currently sits at third in the conference standings behind St. Thomas and St. Kate’s.

The team looks to continue their sucess in order to make a run at the conference regular season title against Carleton before finishing up conference play April 27 against St. Ben’s. The next day they finish their regular season with a doubleheader against UW-Stout.

The MIAC softball playoffs will be held May 3-5.

bermel1@stolaf.edu