A Weekend Series Split versus #8 ranked Coe looks to get the BVU Softball Team Back on Track 


Allie Hartman

Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

A struggle on defense in the home opener against Wartburg. A pair of tight losses to Central on the road. A tough to swallow sweep from Luther. Two 3-2 games dropped at home versus Nebraska Wesleyan. 

The Buena Vista Softball team’s conference year has been marred so far by close finishes in all eight games up to this point, but have left BV winless in American Rivers Conference Play. 

Sitting in last place in the ARC with everything to prove, Buena Vista would face their toughest challenge yet on the season in the #8 ranked Kohawks this past weekend. 

Though they split the series with Coe in 2018 when they Kohawks were ranked #12, the top spot in the American Rivers Conference had belonged to the home team from Cedar Rapids the entire year thus far. With a 28-5 record (7-1 in ARC) and a national ranking, the Kohawks would prove tough to topple once again. 

Giving the nod to Senior pitcher Marissa Promes on the mound for game one, Head Coach Mandie Berneking had to adjust her team’s game plan against a dominant opponent thus far. 

The decision to start the more experienced Promes turned out to be vital for the Beaver defense. Game one moved quick from the start, as the Buena Vista defense behind Promes tracked down any ball the Kohawks put in play. 

Buena Vista was up to the challenge. This David and Goliath matchup on paper would remain scoreless for five innings until Coe broke through the BVU defensive wall. 

With three hits shared between the teams until the bottom fifth, the batting lineups were so-far stagnant on a cold weekend. However, Senior Haley Jones would send a line drive into the Beaver outfield to score her teammate Natalie Blank for the lone run of the ballgame. 

Promes would not be deterred, shutting down the next four batters to put BV in a game-tying situation in the top of the seventh inning. 

Leading off the seventh, Junior Michaela Mason doubled to left field with the best two batters on the squad in Brooke Linderman and Kate Lesmeister upcoming in the lineup. Unfortunately for BVU, Mason would only make her way to third as Linderman popped up to the pitcher and Lesmeister grounded out to the infield to advance Mason. 

In the potential last out of the game, Freshman Sydney Carroll couldn’t find the first base gap as she was retired on an infield fly-out to end the game with a runner on third base. Coe would take game in a heartbreaker for Buena Vista, 1-0. 

Unshaken by the setback in game one, Coach Berneking and the Beavers’ stout defense would take a boost of confidence into game two, especially in starting pitcher Marissa Promes.  

“Coach B discussed having me start game two, because I was doing well controlling Coe’s offense. Peyton [Gross] was in relief and I had confidence in her to come in and own it. All I had to do was just throw and have fun,” says Promes. 

Retaking her spot in the pitcher’s circle, Promes and the rest of her team had nothing to lose. With an 0-9 record in the ARC, game two against Coe would have huge implications for making the conference tournament at the end of the season. 

“I was told to let her know if my arm started to hurt and they checked in with me every inning,” says Promes. “We also discussed that if I did pitch the second game I would need to take care of my arm today and tomorrow by icing it and limiting my throws.” 

Instead of a slow burning, scoreless redux of game one, the second matchup of the day was broken up in the top of second by the Beavers. Sophomore Carlee Guyett would help out the bottom of her order by driving a ball straight back at Coe’s pitcher, Bailey Smith, to score Mckynze Hansen and Ashtyn Miller. Buena Vista would lead 2-0 for another two innings. 

While Promes stayed solid on the mound, allowing just two hits through three innings, Guyett would come in clutch once again. Grabbing her third and fourth RBI’s of the game, plus her second hit, Guyett doubled to left field to score Taylor Frain and Miller once again. Beavers lead 4-0. 

However, the eighth ranked Kohawks would not be upset without a fight. An error in the bottom of the fourth inning by Buena Vista would score Haley Jones for Coe. Jones would then drive in Natalie Blank in the bottom of the fifth for run, and then find herself crossing home plate after Allie O’Brien sent a line drive back at Promes to grab run three for the home team. 

With Promes running out of steam, she would be pulled to bring in freshman Peyton Gross in relief. On the day, Promes would pitch 11 2/3 innings, and only allow three earned runs off three hits. 

With seven batters left in the Coe lineup, Peyton Gross would mow them down with efficiency. To protect Buena Vista’s 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Gross would earn a ground out to retire the Coe side. 

With six batters to go, Gross force a ground out, record a strikeout swinging, and four flyouts to end the game in 18 strikes out of her 21 pitches. The last place Beavers would hang on against the first place, #8 nationally ranked Kohawks in game two, 4-3. 

At the end of the day, the series would be split. The Kohawks would fall to 28-5 overall, while being 8-2 in conference play (second now). Buena Vista would improve to 15-15 overall, while now being 1-9 in the ARC (eighth). 

After the huge upset, Promes sees the weekend as a change of momentum for the rest of the favorable upcoming schedule.  

“I think this is a big confidence booster! Coe is a good team and shutting them down showed us what we are capable of competing against the best. I think we are all excited to play again and show everyone what we are made of,” says Promes. 

Buena Vista will get their chance to prove their mettle in a favorable run of six games to end the season starting this tuesday at home against Loras, the last ranked team in the ARC. 

Afterwards, the Beavers will travel to Dubuque on Friday, who are ranked 6th, and then play Simpson at home to finish the year. The Storm currently sit in seventh place, just above BVU.  

A sweep against the Duhawks could rocket Buena Vista into sixth place and a conference tournament spot, and another pair of sweeps would lock in their bid to play after the conclusion of the regular season. 

From here on out, the Beaver softball team controls their own destiny.