Softball has unfinished business in MVC

Last year, Wichita State won its first Missouri Valley Conference championship in softball. Don’t be surprised if — when — it happens again.

I’m calling it now.

After finishing last season with the most wins in conference play (21-6), the Shockers fell short of expectation, finishing tied for third in the MVC tournament.

That won’t happen this year.

Here’s why: the Shockers brought back 14 letter winners and seven starters after only losing one. The team will have six newcomers, too. Of the 14 letter-winners are two NFCA All-Midwest Region players in Cacy Williams (First Team) and Brittany Fortner (Second Team); three All-MVC first team selections in Fortner, Melanie Jaegers and Williams, who were also voted Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year; and one All-MVC second team selection in Paige Luellen.

Talk about star power. This team is loaded with young talent.

Last year, the Shockers led the MVC in batting with a .314 percentage. Williams lead the MVC individually in batting average (.424). Williams led in hits (72) and runs scored (57), too.  Williams was second in RBI’s (47) only to her teammate Luellen who had 48. Williams led in home runs and total bases.

I won’t go down her entire stat line. She was voted Player of the Year for a reason.

Nonetheless, the Shockers will repeat in the regular season and carry that momentum — along with the feeling of tying for third in last year’s tournament — to the tournament this year. And they will win it.

No other team in the conference brings back such firepower and yet still has the feeling of unfinished business to motivate them. You won’t see it in any other team this year.

As it stands right now, the Shockers are first in the conference (no surprise) with a 14-9 record. Drake and Missouri State are tied for second with a 9-10 record. The two next best teams in the conference are under .500. Now do you see why I feel so strongly about the odds of the Shockers winning the title outright this year?

Unless some unforeseeable otherworldly miracle happens for every other team in the conference, I don’t see how things will change. This title is there’s to lose. If it’s not clear now, it certainly will be a month from now.

You can bet on it.