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Valentine seizes new opportunity with Minot State

You only have one chance at a quality first impression, and junior pitcher Trinity Valentine has wasted no time in making a positive impact on her new team.

The Las Vegas native joined the Minot State Beavers this season after two years with Central Arizona Community College, and has dominated in her nine appearances in the circle through Feb. 27.

“My defense backing me up and everyone having the same energy has really helped me stay calm and make sure that I hit my spots,” she explained.

That support has guided Valentine to a 2.32 ERA in 42.2 innings through her Feb. 27 appearance against St. Cloud State. She had allowed more than one run in an outing just three times in that span, and fanned 36 hitters against just 15 walks.

“She makes hitters uncomfortable with her velocity,” head coach Nat Wagner said. “When she gets a little adrenaline going, her velocity really jumps. She just attacks hitters and she works both sides of the plate aggressively and with confidence. You talk about being fearless in the zone, and I would describe her as a fearless pitcher.”

She rode her hot start to the season all the way toward earning Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Softball Pitcher of the Week honors for her work between Feb. 19-21. Valentine was spotless during that stretch, pitching 12 scoreless frames and striking out 15 while issuing only three free passes and allowing six hits.

She came to Minot State looking to build upon a pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign when she posted a 4.62 ERA in 89.1 innings spanning 16 total appearances. As a freshman two seasons ago in a much larger assignment, she finished with a 3.93 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 153 innings.

One of the key factors that drew her out of the desert and to Minot State, she said, was the welcoming environment. She noticed how all her now-teammates cared for each other, and decided she wanted in.

Valentine immediately became one of the key cogs in the machine that is the Minot State pitching staff, and Wagner intends to continue using Valentine in whatever way he sees fit to best serve the team’s interests on any given day.

The 5’9″ hurler has already garnered experience as both a starter and reliever in the her abbreviated time in the Magic City, contributing three innings out of the bullpen and 39.2 as a starting pitcher.

She has also gone the distance in three of her seven starts, accruing 21.2 innings when she is the only arm utilized by the Beavers. Her 42.2 innings x were good for the highest mark on the team, 25 more than Zoya Robbins’ next-highest total of 17.2.

Wagner assures there is no cause for concern about her heavy workload thus far, as he envisions a healthy mix of all Beavers pitchers, including Valentine, Robbins, Haley Hernandez, Gabi Dawyduk, and Roxanne Ines, to get key outs throughout the season.

“I told her, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to grind you down to a nub this year,'” he said. “We keep pitch counts pretty carefully in practice, and we’re trying to periodize things so that we’re peaking at the right time, in conference tournament if we can make it. It’s not by design to throw 10 innings per game, but at the end of the day, we’re going to exploit matchups the best we can.”

He also stressed how proud he is not only of Valentine, but his staff as a whole.

“At this point in the season, we want to be able to come out and throw strikes and let our defense work,” he added. “You can’t defend a walk, so she’s been attacking the zone and pitching with a lot of confidence and a lot of poise, and it’s giving us a chance to win every day. That’s really all we can ask, and we’re getting quality starts from all of our kids right now.”

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