The Columbia Cougar softball team secured the 2009 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics preseason No. 10 spot after a 42-12 record and a ninth-place finish at the NAIA National Tournament in 2008. These lofty expectations were based on the fact that this year's squad featured three talented newcomers and nine returning players; the returners were led by All-American pitcher Valerie Teter and first baseman Rachel Brawner.
The team then lost a few heartbreakers and suffered key injuries to slip in the ranking.
But, as of early April, the team is riding an eight-game win streak that began in March to a 20-7 record and have thoroughly dominated AMC opponents 6-0.
Head Coach Wendy Spratt, in her 15th season at the helm of the softball program, is pleased with her team’s ability to gel and ride out the turbulence. “The team has rallied to overcome the injuries we have had this year,” Spratt says. “The team has been a cohesive unit and continues to pull together through adversity. It has made us all stronger.”
Teter, a sophomore from Bevier, Mo., has been the team’s workhorse. As of early April, she has amassed a 14-2 record and was named both NAIA and American Midwest Conference softball pitcher of the Week for March 23-29. In that week, she notched four wins in five appearances and tied a school record with 17 strikeouts against Eastern Connecticut and followed that with a no-hitter against Mt. Vernon Nazarene (Ohio). Teter pitched 34.1 innings total that week, allowing only one earned run, 12 hits and striking out 49 batters.
In a recent doubleheader against McKendree (Ill.) University, she whiffed seven and gave up just five hits in the first game and fanned nine Bearcats in the second. Teter has proven extremely versatile, having played four positions in her short career. Last season, she led the team with eight home runs and 48 RBI.
She and the tough Cougars play the University of Illinois at Springfield, Ill., this weekend. Only two home games remain this season, another doubleheader against Missouri Baptist University on Thursday, April 14 starting at 2:00 p.m.; and a “Pink-out Day” Wednesday, April 22 vs. Williams Baptist College.
Is another historic season in the making? Come smell the new grass of spring and hear the ping! of a well-hit ball for yourself.
Valerie Teter fractured her leg Saturday, April 11, in game 2 of a doubleheader against Illinois-Springfield. Teter sustained the injury sliding home.
But not before she had tossed a complete game, no-hit shutout in game 1. Teter struck out 12 and walked one and had the Cougars’ only RBI, a sacrifice fly in the eighth.