A 4-12 start to a season could damage the confidence level of many softball teams beyond repair, but that is not the case at Clarke College where the Crusaders have rebounded to win eight straight games and 11 of their last 12. Experience is one factor, the Crusaders have advanced to the NCAA division three regionals the past two years and coach Cara Clark decided it was time to toughen up the nonconference schedule. She says they played the ranked opponents to test the team and show them where they needed to be to get where they want to go to be competitive.Clark says the tough early schedule has paid off. The Crusaders are 6-0 in Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference action heading into Saturday’s matchup with Aurora.Eleven freshmen are on the roster. One of the key returnees is sophomore pitcher Jill Slater. She has not allowed a run in four games in conference play. Clark says Slater struggled early, but has fined tuned some things and turned into a solid pitcher. Aurora enters Saturday’s matchup with a league mark of 7-1.
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