After reaching a career milestone Thursday, the only thing coach John Tschida cares about is the next game.
The women’s softball coach got his 600th career win when the Tommies topped St. Olaf Thursday afternoon with two complete games from his pitching staff – good enough for a doubleheader sweep over the Oles and good enough for wins No. 600 and 601.
But Tschida is still focused only on his team’s next opponent.
“I’m always just worried about the next game,” he said. “If you asked me how many wins I had I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue. It’s nothing special at all. It’s nice to get it out of the way.”
Sophomore Christy Gries picked up her seventh win of the season in St. Thomas’ 4-0 victory in game one. Gries held the Oles to just four hits through seven innings of work, striking out four batters.
The Tommies got on the board quick in the first game after junior Sydney Marquardt singled to right field to drive in Erica Wilson from second.
Oles’ junior pitcher Katie Truax got into some trouble in the fourth inning, loading the bases after giving up a single to sophomore Kayla Boward. She then walked sophomore Becky Eischens and hit freshman Kimmy Hassel. The Tommies scored three runs in the inning after singles by junior Megan Noskowiak and Wilson, extending a 4-0 lead they would protect through the finish.
Game two needed late-game heroics
Game two was a nail-biter as both senior Marta Radcliffe and the Oles’ Natalee McNeff pitched scoreless softball going into the fourth inning.
St. Olaf freshman Jessica Wilson broke the scoreless tie on a single to center field, scoring senior Ali Berens from second base.
St. Thomas answered in the fifth inning with some small ball. Eischens bunted for a single to start the inning, then stole second base and was driven in on a double by Hassel.
The game remained tied until heroics in the eighth ended the game with a walk-off double by senior Alison Wright, scoring freshman Laura Pawlik and giving the Tommies a 2-1 win. Radcliffe was dominant throughout, striking out 16 of the 29 batters she faced.
The two-game sweep gives the Tommies a 15-1 MIAC record and 28-6 overall record while the Oles drop to 11-5 and 14-16 overall.
“We’re beyond what we thought but we always have high expectations,” Tschida said. “It’s great to see the young players get out there and doing well.”
Tschida’s 601-104 record in 16 years of coaching is the highest winning percentage of all NCAA softball and baseball coaches.
Tischida has won three national championships. His first came at his alma mater, St. Mary’s University, and the next two were with St. Thomas. He’s won three MIAC coach of the year awards as a Tommie and coached 27 All-Conference players, including four conference players of the year.
St. Thomas heads to St. Peter Saturday to face the MIAC’s second-ranked team, Gustavus.
Brian Matthews can be reached at email@example.com