MANKATO — Two years ago, Samantha Holien was sitting on the bench for the North Dakota State softball team, waiting to make her exit.
The Forest Lake High School graduate had pursued her dream of playing Division I softball but, after barely getting on the field her first two seasons, she knew she had to make a change.
“It just wasn’t a good fit for me,” Holien said. “I wasn’t playing, and academically, I wanted to be some place that had a good science program.”
Some place turned out to be Minnesota State.
The senior has become a cornerstone for a Mavericks team that ran its winning streak to 20 games on Thursday, sweeping an NSIC doubleheader from Upper Iowa at the MSU field. The Mavericks won 11-3 and 6-0.
Holien hasn’t just burst on to the scene this season, either. She arrived a year ago and took over the starting second base job, hitting .318 and making the all-conference and all-central region teams. This year, however, she’s elevated her game even more. The senior has moved over to shortstop and, after going 4 for 7 in Thursday’s doubleheader, improved her batting average to .500.
“It’s nothing magical,” she said. “You just go up there and try to hit the ball hard in every at-bat.”
Holien had four hits in the opening 11-3 win, smacking a double, a home run and driving in three runs. The Mavericks ripped 14 hits in all as Lindsay Erickson, Kelly Wood, Anna Cole, Karli DesLauriers and Tatum Klein had two hits apiece.
The Mavericks put the game away early, scoring four times in the first, twice in the second and three times in the third. Wood drove in three runs with the help of a two-run blast, and DesLauriers knocked in two runs.
Freshman Coley Ries got the abbreviated five-inning win, allowing three earned runs on five hits and striking out five without issuing a walk. The win improved her record to 14-2.