Cloquet native Kiana Bender now a senior leader for UMD softball entering 2024
The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) softball team is harnessing these warmer, almost spring like, temperatures as they prepare to tee off their season this Friday in the Mankato Dome Invite.
Cloquet native Kiana Bender is now entering her fourth season with the Bulldogs, and excited to make a final mark.
“I think coming in when I was a freshman, the upperclassmen were gritty and wanted to win every game. I think this team has the same characteristics and we always want to win. We always give our best and hope for the best,” Bender said, a senior infielder.
“We’d love a ‘W’ and to get in the win column every single game, but obviously we want to focus on the process and the little things that it takes us to get those wins,” head coach Lynn Anderson added.
The beginning of the season is thrilling for everyone, especially for Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Preseason Pitcher of the Year Lauren Dixon, who’s looking forward to fresh competition.
“We’ve done a lot of live hitting in here lately. So for the pitchers, the hitters get to know us really well. That’s sometimes kind of hard when they know when not to chase or that kind of thing. They get really good hits off you. So it’s good because we all learn off of each other, but I’m just excited to play in competition,” Dixon said, a senior pitcher.
The Bulldogs finished last season 40-13 in the NCAA Regional tournament, thanks in part to Dixon’s program strikeout record breaking performance.
UMD’s first pitch in Mankato Friday is 3:15 p.m. against Emporia State. Their home opener is March 29 against Augustana University.