Royals Softball shows NWAC how it’s done
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
If you had told me that the Royals softball team was going to be as dominant as they are, I would’ve shrugged and told you maybe. But this year, the team has really put themselves on the map. After a tough second-place finish at the NWAC Championships last year, the team felt the need to prove themselves, and have done so handily.
No team in the NWAC conference has gone undefeated so far this season. Well, except for the Royals. Sitting at a cushy 22–0 record, the team has shown very little, if any, signs of stopping. They haven’t been close losses either. Blowout games like the 20–3 and 13–4 results against Shoreline have helped them make a statement. To make the point even clearer, out of the 22 games the Royals have played, they have defeated their opponents with 8 or more runs in 14 of those games.
While the team as a whole is playing remarkably, there are a few standout players. The pitching staff for the Royals has been marvelous. Keeley Ainge has been lights out for the Royals. Their go-to pitcher leads the league for pitchers with at least 10 games in ERA (1.83), walks allowed (12), earned runs (20), and wins (10). She’s also one of the league’s best at strikeouts, sending 62 batters off the mound without a reward.
However, behind her are some very good pitchers. Kira Staley has had a rookie season to be proud of. An ERA of 3.34 through 10 games is not something to balk at. Jesse Goddard has also been remarkable. The relief pitcher has been clutch when she’s needed to, pitching in four games so far this season and amassing an ERA of 3.00.
While the pitching has been solid, no one can complain about the batting. Every single Royal has batted over a .300 this season. There are nearly five Royals who are batting near a .500 or over a .500. Natasha Beddard leads the bunch, and the league, in batting average with a scorching .545. Her 29 runs, 36 hits, 30 RBI, and 15 walks have made her one of the league’s premier hitters. Not to mention she’s a rookie. Talk about impressive.
I could go on and list every single one of the Royals batters, but I think you get it. The team can hit, run, and throw. They can definitely play. And they’re going to bring the wrath of Canadian athletics down on the heads of their opponents in the NWAC Championships.
Their only danger? Complacency. Being so good can make you very complacent. The hope was that the North division’s other top team, Edmonds College, would challenge the Royals, but that didn’t really happen. As of now, the team hasn’t really been challenged. When that changes come playoffs, the hope is that the team can adapt. If not, it’s going to be a rough ride.
If they don’t become complacent, this could be the year they win it all. Nearly half of the last year’s runner up lineup is back this year, and the key is star pitcher Keeley Ainge. If Ainge can put in another gem of a tournament, the team will continue to dominate on the conference stage. It really could be the year the only Canadian team in the NWAC wins the Championship. After all, if you haven’t lost all season, why ever start?