An Underdog Season Underway for a Beaver Softball Team Gaining Momentum 

Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

February comes to a close and the weather warms. 

As the outdoors see the sunrise creeping up over the horizon of Storm Lake earlier each dawn, six in the morning still signifies the start of the day’s work for the Buena Vista Softball team. 

Awaiting their turn on the Storm Lake High School Softball diamond, Head Coach Mandie Nocita prepares for her sixth-season in charge with an eagerness to begin. 

“This team is a whole lot of fun. They enjoy the time spent working hard on their game with their teammates. The energy has been through the roof, even during our five am practices,” says Nocita. 

With a young squad comprised of three seniors, three juniors and 13 underclassmen, the Beavers in back-to-back seasons will return a strong core of returners, alongside implementing a few fresh faces into the lineup. 

In last year’s campaign, Buena Vista finished with a positive record of 19-17 but dropped 11 of their 16 conference matchups to finish in 8th. Loras would fall in the 9th spot below BV. 

This year, the fight for the American Rivers title will be just as competitive.  

While Central, Wartburg, and Luther all receive multiple first-place votes in the American Rivers Coaches’ Preseason Poll, Buena Vista has been tabbed in the 8th spot with 14 total votes. Agin, the Beavers are expected to finish ahead of Loras, and just behind Simpson in 7th. 

Regardless of the conference strength of schedule ahead of them, the Beavers are undeterred.  

“We aren’t paying attention to what others think of us,” says Nocita. “All we care about is being the best version of us we know we can be, and improve daily. The rest will come.” 

“We are strong 1-18 as well, there are a million options we could see this season and that’s an exciting thing for a Coach.” 

Speaking of depth, Buena Vista has it in droves. 

With Carlee Guyett, Michaela Mason, and Brook Linderman leading the team at the plate, the Beaver offense is spearheaded by the aforementioned important upperclassmen. 

Last season, the trio combined for a .313 batting average, 102 total hits, 19 doubles, seven home runs, and 52 RBI’s. 

On the mound for Buena Vista will be the Beavers’ returning ace, Sophomore Peyton Gross. As one of the best pitchers in the American Rivers last season, Gross finished her 2019 campaign with a 2.86 ERA and 74 strikeouts. 

Safe to say, the team is buying into their coaching staff’s playstyle.  

“We are looking to be fearlessly aggressive in a lot of ways this season, defensively, offensively and on the basepath,” adds Nocita. 

Already having begun their year with their first set of non-conference games against Bethany Lutheran, last weekend’s matchup with the Vikings kickstarted a string 22 straight non-ARC diamond duals. 

Starting the year off on the right foot with a flurry of hits, the Beavers topped Bethany Lutheran 8-2. Guyett drove in a pair of runs with a pair of hits, while Pohlmann added another duo of hits to the Beavers’ eight total. Peyton Gross also went five innings, just giving up one earned run while Carrie Dose’s relief effort went the final two frames for just an unearned run. 

However, the Vikings bounced back immediately after and found their own bats to take down BV is an 8-5 victory in favor of Bethany Lutheran. Game two earned 11 hits from the Beavers, including a pair from McKynze Hansen and Carmen Morrison.  

Though the weekend ended in a 1-1 split for BV, 13 combined runs prove that the Beaver offense will be a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming season. 

With 20 more out-of-conference opponents to square off with on the diamond before beginning ARC play with Central on March 28th, Coach Nocita and the squad are prepared for the challenge. 

 “There are a ton of positives in facing a tough non-conference schedule to prepare us for what is the grind of our conference. Mainly, it’s just to see the best of the best regionally so when we face our conference opponents who are arguably the top teams in the country, we are ready,” says Nocita. 

The Beavers will be back on the field for another duo of games on this weekend’s Leap Day. Saturday, February 29th will see BVU travel east to Decatur, Illinois to take on Calvin College. 

Those games will begin at noon and 2pm respectively. 

The team’s schedule can be found here, as well as the full American Rivers Conference Preseason Poll.