Blues primed for more fireworks

Swygert swagger Kelly Swygert winds up for one of her 53 pitches March 28, 2007, against Southwest Baptist. Swygert ended up pitching the Lady Blues’ first-ever perfect game as they shut down the Bearcats 8-0.

Eric Smith

The Washburn Lady Blues hope to do something they’ve only done twice in the last nine seasons: Make the NCAA Tournament. Finishing 30-20 last season, the women’s softball team ended their season with a loss to Missouri Western in the MIAA conference tournament consolation finals. “Last season we actually did really, really well,” said sophomore pitcher Megan Kimerer. “We made it to the conference tournament, but we didn’t make it as far as we would’ve liked to. We got third place. This year should be a different story, and we should hopefully make it a lot farther than what we did last year.” The Lady Blues begin their season at 4 p.m. Feb. 13 in Phoenix, Ariz. against Dixie State College of Utah. “We’re really excited and just ready to get the season started,” said coach Lisa Carey. “We’ve been practicing right at a month right now. We’re ready to go somewhere warm and get outside and kick our season off. I think we’re well prepared. We’ve practiced hard and a lot of our girls have come back in great shape.” Leading the conference in batting average, slugging, home runs and doubles last season, the Washburn softball team has goals of continuing its offensive excellence into this season. It did help to have red-shirt freshman Tish Williams on the team, who led the conference in eight offensive categories. “Our hitting is really, really strong. We have a very strong offensive team,” said Kimerer. “We can definitely put up numbers on the board.” With their pitchers having an earned run average in the top five with 2.84 and a defense with a fielding percentage in the top four .958, the Lady Blues were pretty well-rounded last season and hope to continue the trend. “With Kelly Swygert, our senior leader on the mound, and our young pitching, we’re feeling pretty good,” said Carey. “Our young pitching has matured a lot and knows what to expect now. They have gotten mentally tough and stronger.” The team went 12-3 at home last year at the WU softball complex and thinks its record can only get better. “There is definitely a home-field advantage,” said Kimerer. “We don’t have many bleachers so our fans stand everywhere on our side while [the other team has] like two on their side. It really helps us whenever people back us up a lot.” Sophomore catcher Katie Duncan, a transfer and one of the many new additions to the team, loves the atmosphere at Washburn. “Coming from a junior college, the bigger stage at Washburn is definitely a lot more intense. It’s nice to have the older girls there for the leadership,” said Duncan. “I love it so much more. It’s so much more serious. And we have a lot of campus backing with fans and people that support us. “We have a good team this year and are looking to do big things in the postseason.”