|Posted March 22, 2008|
Everything keeps clicking as Pack finishes sweep of UNK
In the ThunderWolves' history, Nebraska-Kearney has historically owned the Pack. Saturday, the Pack finished its first ever sweep over the Lopers, winning 10-1, and more importantly, took strides in its quest to become an upper-echelon team in the RMAC.
For the fourth consecutive game, the ThunderWolves benefitted from a lights out pitching performance behind starter Kelsey Swanberg, who only allowed one run on just five hits, earning her third win of the weekend. On the weekend, Swanberg has a 1.65 ERA in 17 innings pitched.
"Our pitchers have been throwing absolutely outstanding," Pack coach Shane Showalter said. "To come in and sweep Kearney, who is traditional powerhouse that generally knocks us around a bit is huge."
Coming into the series, the ThunderWolves held an all-time record of 11-43 against Kearney, a team that is struggling this season but normally is a favorite to win an RMAC title in any given season. This weekend, the Pack really exorcised those demons, getting big plays from all three facets of their game, and are now in the middle of a streak. The Pack's current five-win streak is the longest since the Pack uncorked eight straight last season, and marks the first sweep since last season, when the ThunderWolves put away Colorado Mines near the beginning of the season.
Showalter said that this season's time is playing some of the best he's seen in his six years helming the softball program.
"This group is more the complete package than some of our more recent teams we've had here," Showalter said. "The last couple years, we really relied on our hitting, and now we're getting it from all three facets, and we have much more consistency."
The hitting, though, is excelling without carrying the team, as evidenced this weekend. Five players boasted averages over .400 for the weekend, with the top hitter, Bo Nuanez, going .545 on the weekend. But it was Nuanez that went down with an injury on errant slide Saturday, forcing the Pack to shuffle its lineup for the first time this season. The result was continued excellence.
Brittany Devens came in to play third, pushing third baseman Katie Johnson to right field and Melissa Lujan to the battery. The result was calm production by all three: Devens came in and went 2-for-2 at the plate in relief, and Johnson also was perfect at the plate, going 3-for-3 on the day, including knocking out her second homer of the series and fourth of the season. Neither of the girls posted errors Saturday.
"Having Brit come in, pick us up and put us in a groove was big," Showalter said. "The injury to Bo could have really taken the wind out of our sale, and it was huge that we didn't miss a beat."
The ThunderWolves will look to extend its win streak next weekend with a road-trip to Grand Junction to take on current RMAC Western Division leader Mesa State in a huge series that will likely find the winner in first place in the division once the series concludes.