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Softball Scots Peaking Just in Time for MWC Tourney
Third-year Monmouth College softball coach John Goddard likes his team's chances in this weekend's Midwest Conference Championship at Lake Forest, which features the top two teams from the leagues North and South divisions.

"Right now, we're playing as well as we have all year," said Goddard. "We're playing very relaxed and loose. We feel like we have some momentum and we're going in the right direction. It's a short series, so anything can happen. As long as we don't commit a lot of errors, we'll have a shot."

The stats support Goddard's claim. The Scots averaged twice as many errors in their losses as they did in their wins this season. They have been especially good over their last five games, committing just four errors during that stretch while averaging more than five runs per game and hitting .313 as a team.

The youthful Scots, who have just two seniors and one junior on the roster, enter the tournament as the No. 2 team in the South Division and will have their hands full. The tournament field includes host Lake Forest from the South and St. Norbert and Ripon from the North. The Scots were 0-4 against the field this season.

Aiming for their first league title since 1987, the Scots are making their third consecutive trip to the tournament and face defending champion St. Norbert in the tournament's first game Friday at 10 a.m.

The Green Knights blanked the Scots in the final game of the Midwest Classic last month after Ripon posted a 1-0 win over Monmouth the game before. Lake Forest swept the Scots in Monmouth during the regular season to claim the South Division crown.

"We're going into the tournament as the underdog," claimed Goddard. "If the tournament ranked all four teams, we'd probably be No. 4, but we're as good as anybody on any given day."

Monmouth has been good as of late and is entering the tournament on a three-game winning streak in which they've hit .368 as a team. Leadoff hitter Lauren Bergstresser was on base nearly 60 percent of the time during that stretch and six players hit .400 or better.

Sophomore Brooke Twohill certainly hasn't had the sophomore slump, slugging her way to a team-high .415 average this season after hitting .247 last year. Another sophomore, Morgan Seiler, is right behind with a .406 average and a team-high 27 RBIs. Eight different Scots have hit home runs, giving the team 14 on the year - second most in school history.

"They're feeling good about themselves right now," reported Goddard. "They're hitting with confidence and making the plays."

In the circle, ace Kelsey Williams leads the team with three shutouts and five wins. Reliever Megan Butler boasts a team-best 2.80 ERA and is second on the team with three wins. The Scots also got a pitching boost last weekend with the return of Ellissa Sexton, who had missed most of the season with an injury. That gives the Scots a possible seven arms to throw at the opposition this weekend.

"The pitching has really come around and matured quite a bit," said Goddard. "We'll be able to score runs, so we just need the defensive support behind our pitchers and anything could happen."

Goddard is hoping that "anything" is a conference title.

(Monmouth College Athletics)
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