St. Edward’s University softball team gains new pitching staff, works to pull it all together


The St. Edward’s University softball team will start Heartland Conference action this weekend.

Pitchers and catchers are arguably the most central part of softball and baseball.

As the St. Edward’s University softball team said farewell to several graduating conference standouts last year, this season’s team is welcoming several fresh faces into the circle and behind the plate.

“I think most people would consider this year to be a rebuilding year for us, but I don’t,” St. Edward’s Head Coach Lindsay Gardner said, referring to her team as a puzzle. “I think we’ve got all the tools and the talent, and it’s just figuring out how to put all the pieces together.”

Chasing their fourth consecutive Heartland Conference championship game appearance, Gardner says this team of seven returning veterans and 12 newcomers (seven freshmen and five transfers) have continued to improve in the first three weeks of the season. 

Currently 10-6, several recent wins and losses have come in close walk-off fashion.

The strongest hitters have been speedy, junior lead-off hitter Alex Mayfield, junior outfielders Breah Whitten and Nicole Parnell, and freshman outfielder Kayla Appleby, as well as senior first baseman Samantha Gilmore.

Last season’s RBI and home run leader was only a freshman. Now, the sophomore third baseman Morgan Dufour continues to succeed in clutch situations, as she has hit three home runs so far.

After the Hilltoppers won their home-opening doubleheader on Feb. 17, Dufour’s grandfather Bill Kahler said he thinks St. Edward’s is going to have good pitching throughout the year. Dufour’s grandparents attend as many of the softball games “as often as people who are 83 and 82 can.”

The strongest pitcher in the circle has been junior transfer Lauren Slatten, who was named the Heartland Conference’s first Pitcher of the Week recipient in early February after striking out 20 batters in 19.0 innings of work in debut series. Prior to attending St. Edward’s, Slatten was a Division I pitcher down the road for the University of Texas. Slatten was once again named Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 15-21.

“We’re becoming better, because she’s pitching for outs, rather than trying to strike everyone out,” Gardner said, discussing Slatten’s selfless mentality. “That’s just making our entire team better, so that we can play defense her, and our other pitchers.”

Gardner says the new pitchers and catchers motivate each other and learn from each other’s mechanics.

As the team enters conference play this weekend, St. Edward’s will host Lubbock Christian.

“I feel like our season is going to continue to improve. Our goal is just to get better every single day at something — and we’ve actually done that every single day,” Gardner says. “It started out pretty rough in the first game and in the second game, but it’s gotten better every single time.”