SKYLAND – Roberson took it on the chin Tuesday.
The Rams (8-6, 4-2) knew they were running that risk by playing a tough nonconference game (a 7-1 loss at Madison).
They’ve still matched their number of wins from all of last softball season without a padded schedule. Third-year coach Ryan Klinger simply doesn’t feel like his team can afford that luxury.
“Our conference (the Mountain Athletic 3-A/4-A) is one of the strongest in the state,” Klinger said.
“I’d put it up against anybody.”
The Rams have proven themselves with quality wins, both inside and outside the MAC.
They have swept a home-and-away series with Owen and taken out Franklin and North Henderson in other nonconference games. Most importantly, Roberson beat the second-place team in the MAC – a 3-2 road game with Reynolds (9-2, 5-2) on Friday.
Erskine recruit Sam Schmidt (8-2 with a 2.16 earned-run average and 114 strikeouts in 68 innings) has been the pitcher responsible for each of the Rams’ wins. She scattered one earned run and six hits in a complete game at Reynolds with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Schmidt and Peyton Bell are the only seniors for a program which is not fielding a junior-varsity team this spring.
“We’re having a great year and trying to play our hardest. It’s starting to show in our games,” said Schmidt, whose pitch selection consists of a fastball, changeup, riseball, dropball, curveball and screwball.
“We like to see solid nonconference games. It gets us ready for our conference games.”
Klinger isn’t surprised at all by the season that his ace is having.
“Sam Schmidt puts in 110 percent on the field, she’s done that for us all four years that she’s been here,” Klinger said.
“She brings so much to our team, not only with her ability but her attitude as well.”
Roberson’s other pitcher is sophomore Caitlin Hodges, who got the start Tuesday at Madison.
Five different players are hitting .300 or better for the Rams — freshman Brittany Youngblood (.500), Schmidt (.463), sophomore Syara Ownbey (.389), sophomore Caitlin Hodges (.345) and freshman Haley Morrow (.345).
Junior outfielder Dariann McCurry said that resiliency and trust are big strengths for the Rams.
“We believe that we can fight through anything,” McCurry said.
“We trust our pitcher and we trust our defense. No matter what the score it, we always believe we can fight back if we do the little things. Some of the wins we’ve had lately just show how much heart this team has.”
Roberson plays its next game Thursday at home against McDowell. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m.