The Missouri Valley Conference softball tournament starts tomorrow in Carbondale, Illinois and the league is expected to announce its postseason awards later today. As the conference champion, it stands to reason that UNI would be well represented on some of the All-Conference teams, but Panther coach Ryan Jacobs says that’s not the way his players are looking at it.

“There’s so many great players in our league, I know our players will all have that attitude of gratitude when they get what they get,” Jacob says. He says he has confidence the other coaches in the league will give the proper respect to his team as his team respects the other good players in the league.

UNI pitcher Jamie Fischer is a strong candidate to be the league’s Pitcher of the Year. Fischer won 20 games this season and led the MVC with a 1.34 ERA. Her 203 strikeouts were also second among league pitchers. Jacobs says that those are great numbers, but he knows that Fischer still has room to improve over the next two years.

Jacobs says he still feels Fischer had a bit of a sophomore slump despite the great numbers she put up. He believes she will be even better next season as she matures even more.

Jacobs says that Fischer has been going above and beyond his expectations since the first start of her freshman season. “We knew she was a good player coming out of high school, but we didn’t expect what we were going to get last year,” Jacob says. He says the first time she played in a big game she showed him who she was and he will never doubt her.

The Panthers are the top seed in this weekend’s MVC Tournament. That gives them a double bye to the semifinal round on Friday.

By Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls