Hitting her stride: Sophomore outfielder leading Dragons at the plate

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Martin Schlegel

schlegelma@mnstate.edu

As the MSUM softball team rolls into the conference portion of its schedule, Dragons’ outfielder Madison Paige is establishing herself as one of the premier hitters in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Not only is Paige leading the team with 13 RBIs and a .536 slugging percentage, she is also hitting above .400. Her .411 batting average is currently 18th best in the NSIC.

In the last five seasons, just 30 players in NSIC softball have batted above .400. While hitting over .400 is quite the accomplishment, it’s not Paige’s goal.

“I’d definitely like to up my RBIs this year,” Paige said. “I’d like to be better at driving in my teammates when they get on base.”

At the moment, Paige is on pace to accumulate 36 RBIs – nearly double her total (19) from last season. Head coach Kelsey Fehl thinks these feats and more are within reach for the star outfielder.

“She is one of those hitters that is super consistent,” Fehl, who is in her eighth season as the head coach at MSUM, said. “I think Maddie goes into every at-bat with the mindset that she’s going to be successful.”

In the midst of her sophomore year, Paige already has a school record under her belt. Last year she hit 16 doubles, which ranked sixth in the NSIC broke and the existing record that stood for 13 years.

Fehl, praising Paige’s work as a freshman, said she has the confidence to succeed and continue her hot start to the 2018 season.

“Last year she hit high .300s and just getting that experience I think she can be even better,” Fehl said. “She’s done a really good job with taking what she learned her freshman year and carrying it over into her sophomore year.”

With just two juniors and two seniors on the team, Paige leads a youthful team, and after a good Florida trip in which the team compiled a 6-4 record, she’s becoming a leader on the field.

“We have to lean on all of our young players,” Fehl said. “The majority of our team is young so that puts a lot of pressure on them right away.”

Paige recognizes the pressure but says her and the rest of the team embrace it.

“All of us have our strengths, so we kind of lean on each other for different things,” Paige said.

Last season, Paige missed nine games due to an injury. Finally healthy this year, she is laser-focused on finding her pitch and achieving her goals at the plate.

“I’ve been focusing more on hitting pitches that I know I’m probably going to get, and making sure I’m going to hit them solidly,” Paige said. “Anything I get, anything the pitcher throws at me, I’m going to hit it hard.”

So far this season, Paige is doing just that and has the chance to accomplish a rarity in the NSIC.

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