Shockers win second straight after defeating Southern Nazarene

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Rachel Rudisill/ The Sunflower

Senior Arielle James celebrates during the game against SNU at Wilkins Stadium on Sept. 24.

The Wichita State softball team earned another sweet victory against Southern Nazarene 24-0. The Shockers started strong as sophomore left fielder Lauren Lucas, and junior designated hitter Lauren Mills hit a home run and grand slam in the first inning.

When a player hits a homerun, Head Coach Kristi Bredbenner tosses each girl a Hi-Chew. 

“With COVID, you try to avoid a little bit more hand contact, so we went with Hi-Chews last year. It worked, so we decided to keep it going. Hi-Chew, high five. The girls enjoy it and they get into it, so anything I can do to get them to hit home runs I’ll do it.”

Sophomore left fielder Lauren Lucas hit her first career home run as a Shocker against Nazarene. As a result, she received her first Hi-Chew as well. 

“I received a little bit of validation from the coach and it feels really good to have that extra confidence,” Lucas said

Both Lucas and Mills had great support not only from the crowd, but their teammates as well. When in the dugout, waiting to bat, the Shockers yell chants for each of their teammates. Each chant is uniquely designed for every player. The point of chanting is to encourage the player up at bat. 

“It’s a reward hearing the crowd say nice things about you,” Mills said. “I am happy we have fans cheer for me and cheer for my team. They’re constantly supportive and that’s what makes this program so great. It is a better reward to see your teammates cheering behind you. We are all one big family.”

Mills tends to lead the chants in the dugout. Most of the cheers are passed down, however, with the Shockers being a family both on and off the field, they get to create their own chants that really help to characterize each individual. Participating in chants is carrying on the “Shocker legacy” according to Mills. These chants help the player, but they take some getting used to.

“At first when you’re not used to the chants they create pressure,” said Mills. “In summer ball we’re taught yeah, we’re too old to chant. We’re not five anymore. Then it’s back again and it’s like oh okay. Only eight year olds chanting is random and this is not.”

With the amount of support and teamwork the Shockers had, they dominated the field. SNU tallied four hits the entire game while the Shockers finished with a total of 22. For the last five innings of the game, Bredbenner put in players who have not received a lot of live game action.

“That experience is huge for them, and they did a great job of coming in and getting better,” Bredbenner said. 

The Shockers still have a long season ahead of them. Bredbenner hopes to receive a few better pitches and to be more selective when it comes to aggression. She said the fall season allows for players to adapt to change and really learn the game of college softball. 

On Saturday at 1pm, the Shockers will face their toughest opponent yet – Kansas University. 

“Kansas University is a realistic game,” Bredbenner said. “KU is a great division one team. This will be the most game-like experience that we are going to get ourselves here in the fall, between KU and Oklahoma State, to prepare for the spring. The speed of the game is going to be different and it is nothing against the division two or juco teams that we play in the fall, but there is a difference. For us, this is about getting our girls the experience of these levels.”