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Minot State softball off to hot start

Head softball coach Nat Wagner had a simple explanation for the Beavers’ fast start to the season.

“I think we’re playing our brand of ball.”

Through the new campaign’s first 10 days, Minot State had won seven of its first eight games, outscoring opponents 59-20 and earning three consecutive shutout victories over the University of Mary, Northern State University, and Bemidji State University.

“Playing fast, putting pressure on people, and playing good defense,” he continued. “Trinity’s been great in the circle, and I really like how other pitchers have thrown in their innings too. We’ve been able to exploit matchups, and it really has been a nice team collective approach.”

Trinity Valentine has been nothing short of exceptional to begin her first season in the Magic City, and the junior pitcher has been one of the biggest components to the Beavers’ early success.

She has contributed at least seven innings of work in three of her six appearances, and has allowed six runs, five of which came in her Feb. 12 outing against Morningside College. She also boasted 30 strikeouts in 29.2 total innings, against just eight free passes.

The Las Vegas native will be looking to build upon her final season at Central Arizona Community College, when she posted a 4.62 ERA in 89.1 innings of work during the 2019-2020 season.

“She attacks hitters, and we knew coming in that she was going to have a lot of poise and just enjoy the competitive part of playing,” Wagner said. “I love how she attacks hitters, wants the ball in big moments, and she makes hitters uncomfortable. That bodes well for the future, but we have not seen her best yet, and that’s really exciting.”

She rode her strong start all the way to earning NSIC Softball Pitcher of the Week honors, the conference announced Feb. 23, after she threw 12 scoreless frames and struck out 15 hitters without allowing a single run between Feb. 19-21.

Wagner also shone about the other members of his pitching staff that have made appearances thus far.

Gabi Dawyduk, a freshman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, moved the ball and changed speeds well en route to 8.2 scoreless innings to begin her season. She had fanned seven hitters and allowed five hits without issuing a single base on balls in that span.

Zoya Robbins is working corners well, and has been better than her numbers indicate though her first three appearances in the circle. One play that could have been made may be the biggest factor in her 8.71 ERA.

Roxanne Ines has also been able to get some huge outs in her Feb. 19 appearance against the Marauders, tossing three innings of one-run ball. The group embraced the bullpen mentality, Wagner said, that they’re a whole staff, not individuals, and they have been very good versions of themselves.

Up next for the Beavers is a four-game road trip through Minnesota, where Minot State will play two contests each against Southwest Minnesota State and St. Cloud State. Wagner singled the Huskies out as the team that will present the bigger challenge as the Beavers make their way to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

St. Cloud State has won all six of its contests in convincing fashion, outscoring their opposition 67-6. The only six runs they have surrendered came in a 30-6 embarrassment of Viterbo University Feb. 14.

“St. Cloud has the best record in the conference right now. They’re super athletic, fast, they put a ton of pressure on, and they’re very well coached. We expect a dogfight there, and we can’t wait to get after it.”

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