MOUNT CARMEL -- While the Wabash Valley College baseball team reigns supreme in collegiate baseball, another Wabash Valley College team has been impressive in their own right -- the Wabash Valley softball team.
Though they currently sit as one of the most improved teams in NJCAA Division I softball, things didn't come easy for the Lady Warriors early on in the season. A pair of early season tournaments in Mississippi and Georgia against quality competition forced the Lady Warriors to stumble out to a 7-8 record.
Faced with a tremendous amount of adversity following their forgettable start, the Lady Warriors rebounded smoothly, winning their next 18 games to right the ship and get their season back on track.
Now, they sit just outside the top 20 of the NJCAA Division I Softball Committee's poll, one of three teams on the outside looking in with votes.
The direction of seasoned head coach Paul Schnarre assuredly played a vital role in his team's ability to bounce back. Schnarre, in his 36th season as coach of the Lady Warriors, sits just shy of 1,400 wins, sitting with 1,393 and having coached in over 1,700 games. Schnarre's totals rank him first in career victories among active coaches in NJCAA. His experience through countless campaigns is invaluable experience for situations such as the one he and his team were pitted against.
Several players have contributed in major roles for the Lady Warriors, perhaps none more as of late than freshman pitcher and first baseman Kaitlynn Bennett and freshman outfielder Sydni Cosby. Though her RBI total ranks her third on the team, Cosby's performed exceptionally well at the plate. In 30 games against conference foes, Cosby is slashing for a team-high .434 average with 31 RBIs, a .451 OBP, two homers and two triples. Similarly, Bennett's impact has been considerable.
Residing as Wabash Valley's ace, Bennett boasts a lowly 1.57 ERA on the season to complement her 16-6 record. She's fanned 127 batters in 133 1-3 innings pitched and is containing opposing hitters to just a .230 average against her, .209 in conference action. At the plate Bennett's been effective as well with her .345 conference average, with 30 RBIs and a .396 OBP.
Perhaps their most consistent hitter all year long though has been their three-hole hitter, Purdue-Fort Wayne commit and sophomore Kyndell Ethridge. Though her batting average has slipped to .354 in conference action, Ethridge has excelled against non-conference foes, amassing a .373 total clip with 44 RBIs, six homers and has scored 37 runs on the season.
Though their 18-game win streak was snapped with a loss to SWIC on April 6, the Lady Warriors have still won eight of their last 10 games and continue to trend on a positive trajectory as the season winds down.
Fortunately, six of their final eight games of the season are at home -- where they boast a 13-1 record -- boding well for a strong finish heading into the Region 24 Tournament in May.
Wabash Valley's (33-11) next game will come at home on Tuesday (April 23) beginning at noon for a doubleheader against Shawnee.