Ruling the Summit League
The Bison softball team has reigned over the Summit League throne since joining its first ever Division I conference.
The Bison joined the Summit League in 2008 and have finished first in the regular season every year, even when they were ineligible for postseason play during their first year in the league. Did someone say postseason play? The Bison are excellent in those high-pressure games too, placing four Summit League championships under their belt. The reign over the League has been enjoyable, but last year, a team finally knocked the Bison from the top of the mountain.
For the first time in Summit League tournament history, the Bison were eliminated from the tournament. Behind the heroic pitching performances from Miranda Kramer, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne defeated the Bison and stole the Summit League title from Fargo. It was a reality check for the Bison, who are focused and obsessed about regaining the throne.
Looking back at last year’s roster, one aspect of the team overshadowed the rest – its youth. Alyssa Reina, Cheyenne Garcia, Logan Moreland and Maritza Lopez-Portillo were all true freshman last season, and they were all in the lineup the day IPFW dethroned the Bison. “We were young. We just didn’t win because we didn’t execute and that’s the main thing,” explains senior catcher Jenina Ortega. She continued to explain the Bison weren’t on their game last season and that more than the youth or anything else, is why the Bison fell.
This season, all four freshmen are back in the lineup and hungry for another shot at the title. The Summit League Tournament isn’t until the first week in May, so for now, Ortega says they are preparing to play their best softball when the postseason comes around. “If you’re worried about one team, you lose sight of the process. We’re just making sure we are getting better every weekend, and come May we must have our best foot forward.”
The Bison are led by two coaches, Darren Mueller and Jamie Trachsel, who are known for having their players prepared for the big stage. While Mueller focuses the Bison at the plate and making sure the lineup is set, Ortega says there is no question Trachsel is responsible for getting the players ready mentally for battle on the field. “That’s the lieutenant sergeant captain. She leads the ship.”
Mueller and Trachsel have the Bison off to another great start this season, defeating prestigious institutions like Notre Dame and Stanford. “We’re definitely ready,” Ortega stated simply. “There’s a different mindset and everybody is on the same page so now we’re ready to win the championship.”
With another month left in the season, the Bison look poised to raise their fifth Summit League championship in six years and is ready to regain its throne.