Leading the way

By JONNY ZAWACKI

News Sports Writer

Not much as changed for Anna Couture over her softball career. From a leader and standout at Posen High School, she continues to lead the way for a top tier Division III program at Alma College.

Couture is only a junior at Alma, but the journey that her and the Scots have been on over the last two seasons has already been a remarkable one.

Last season the Alma softball team got off to a rocky start, but really stepped in up in the postseason, relishing the role as underdogs.

The Scots ended last season ranked eighth in the nation and Couture’s switch to the leadoff spot in the order was a big reason for the teams success.

Couture appeared in all 47 games last season for Alma, finishing the 2015 season with 47 hits in 137 at bats which was good for an impressive .343 batting average. She also drove in 21 runs and stole eight bases.

“I was moved to the leadoff position last year towards the end of the season and throughout all of postseason play. That experience has helped me because I feel more relaxed and confident. My goal is to get on base, it doesn’t matter how, but that is the role of the leadoff position,” Couture said.

A year later, Couture and the Scots continue to reap the benefits of having not only one of the best leadoff hitters in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), but one of the top overall players in the conference.

Couture currently leads the Scots in at-bats, plate appearances, runs, stolen bases and games played. She also ranks third in the MIAA for at-bats with 99. She has 31 hits, 13 RBI, scored 20 runs and swiped five bases, while batting a solid .313.

Alma holds a 24-6 overall record and are tied for first in the MIAA at 9-1. The Scots are also ranked number one in the Central Region.

“Honestly, I don’t really pay attention to numbers and statistics, but I realize we have gotten off to a good start this year. After Florida, I knew we had potential and with the MIAA tournament approaching, we need to continue to play good ball and improve in order to keep winning. Our main goal is to win a National Championship and I do believe this team is capable of it, especially since we were able to experience Nationals last year and saw what kind of competition there is. Our confidence level from the beginning of this season compared to the beginning of last season is nowhere close,” Couture said.

With only six games remaining in the regular season, Alma will look to end continue their winning ways. The Scots are tied with Trine and will have a doubleheader against the Thunder next weekend which will have huge implications on who will be the number one seed heading into the MIAA tournament.

Alma is hoping to end Trine’s four year run as conference champions and the Scots hope to get back on top and secure their first MIAA title since 2011.

This will likely not be just a short two year run for the Scots as they have just three seniors on the team, so many of the players will be back next season along with Couture.

“Honestly next season has not even crossed my mind yet because I take it one game at a time. It will be an advantage to have numerous girls with experience back for next season. We are going to miss the three seniors as they all have big roles on this team, but I believe we have girls that will step up and fulfill those positions and get the job done,” Couture said.

Alma softball is known to have success despite not winning a conference title since 2011, the Scots had won 12 conference championships dating back to 1997, including nine in a row from 1997-2005.

Since then, it may have been the lack of leadership that led to some down years, but when Alma brought in the former Vikings, they got exactly the kind of leader they were looking for and one that may be able to take the program straight to the top.

“As a leader I do my best to display confidence and passion. I love softball and would not be where I am if I didn’t push myself to improve every day. I just hope the younger girls can see that success is not easy and requires determination and hard work. I am lucky to be apart of this program and help contribute to its success. It is something that I will value forever,” Couture said.