DePauw University softball sitting on top of NCAC

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After a slow start to the season, DePauw University's softball team has been picking things up.
The Tigers are 6-2 in their past eight games and have won their last five games. DePauw continued to come out on top with a sweep of Tuesday's double-header with Denison University on the road in Granville, Ohio. The wins moved the Tigers to an unblemished 4-0 record in NCAC play and 13-9 overall.
DePauw Head Coach Erica Hanrahan attributes the team's success to the tough exhibition schedule.
"We had a successful start to our conference season because we played several top 25 programs in our pre-season schedule and learned how to compete with the best and fight through adversity," said Coach Hanrahan.
Key to the teams recent run of success is pitcher Kahla Nolan. The junior has tossed two straight shutouts against Kenyon and earned the title of NCAC Pitcher of the Week.
"Kahla Nolan earning those honors does not surprise me," said senior Lauren Krumwelde. "She deserves them entirely and I am so proud to be her teammate. She is our rock."
Sophomore Sammi Bell agrees.
"There isn't a better pitcher than her in the conference," she said. "Nobody else is going out and pitching 14-inning double headers and doing it well. She, without a doubt, deserved both awards."
Nolan is excited about the accolade, but she insists that she didn't win it alone.
"The two straight shutouts were really team achievements," said Nolan. "The team made all the plays and stopped Kenyon from being able to scratch out a run. Without a solid defense my work as a pitcher really doesn't mean much."
The team's NCAC schedule could not open soon enough for the Tigers. In non-conference match-ups, the Tigers are playing .500 softball at 9-9.
Senior Megan Landahl commented on what else has been responsible for the team's sudden surge.
"Our team is resilient," Landahl said. "There have been challenges thrown at us and instead of getting down, these challenges have propelled the players on our team to step up in a huge way."
Krumwelde and Bell attribute the 5-0 run to work the team has put in off the field, working on the mental side of the game in a classroom.
"The upward push is due to the constant hours of hard work," Bell said, "not only in physical conditioning, strength, and softball skills, but in the increased amount of time spent in the classroom working on mental toughness and getting their minds ready for the game."
In the classroom, the team members work on goal setting and mental preparation for both themselves and the team as a whole.
The team hopes their work off the field will help them achieve the highest level of performance come game time. Their 4-0 start in conference is unbelievable for them, but it also puts a target on their backs because opponents are going to want to break that streak.
Coach Hanrahan believes her team is strong enough to keep the wins from affecting them.
"We are preparing by focusing on each team one at a time, practicing parts of our game that will hopefully exploit a potential weakness in our opponent," said Hanrahan. "Having varied offensive tools, aggressive base-running and a solid defense is at the heart of who we try to be."
The Tiger softball team returns to action with a double-header at home against conference rival Hiram College this Saturday at 1 p.m.