MASON CITY - The NIACC softball team is off to a fast start offensively in the young 2018 season.
NIACC (5-3 overall) averages 13.125 runs per game in its first eight games, including a 25-1 win over RCTC and a 27-0 win over Century College.
The 13.125 runs per game leads all NJCAA Divison II teams. The Lady Trojans also rank first in NJCAA Divison II in hits per game (13.6) and doubles per game (4.4).
"Our kids have really bought in to what we are trying to do offensively," first-year NIACC coach Dan Gratz said. "Our ball efficiency has been good - meaning we are not swinging at very many pitches out of the zone, leading to a ton of hard hit balls.
"The players have a great plan at the plate and each player is focused on being their best self."
The Lady Trojans also rank sixth in NJCAA Division II in overall batting average (.462), sixth in on-base percentage (.531) and seventh in slugging percentage (.674). They rank fifth with 35 doubles and eighth with 37 stolen bases.
Sophomore Morgan Thesing-Ritter is hitting .607 with two doubles, two triples, 10 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Also for the Lady Trojans, sophomore Courtney Johannes is hitting .519 with eight doubles and 13 RBIs.
Freshman Kaitlyn Carlson leads NIACC with 13 RBIs. Freshman Kaci Sherwood has 12 RBIs and five doubles.
"We have a group of players working to get the ball in play to use their speed," Gratz said, "and a group of players working to hit the ball out on every swing.
"One thing all of our players do is run the bases extremely well. They trust us coaches and go until we stop them."
NIACC, which returns to action Friday in a doubleheader, at Southeast CC in Beatrice, Neb., is slated to play 14 games on its spring break trip with games in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. The Lady Trojans' home opener is scheduled for March 27 against Marshalltown and their league opener is March 30 at home against Iowa Central.
Gratz, who was the director of softball operations at the University of Iowa last season, said he likes what he sees out of his team through the first eight games.
"The start of the season has been fun," he said. "The only thing I have been a little surprised by is how much our players are trusting what we wanting them to do offensively.
"I knew coming in that it was going to be a struggle to gain their trust as we implemented some things that are a little bit different than the norm."