Not long ago, Erin Brown was unsure of what her future held.
Brown, a successful collegiate softball coach, was at Truman State University from 2007-2019. She resigned from that position and moved into that field when her husband Brian became principal at Troy Buchanan High.
“It was a great opportunity for Brian and our family and something we are very excited about,” said Erin Brown. “That’s when I got a job in town and started thinking about what was going to be next.”
Then she heard about an opening for an executive softball coach from Lindenwood University.
“I did an interview and fell in love with the place,” she said. “And that was obviously before all the talk of moving to Division I. In a way, to have an opportunity like this almost feels like destiny. Just like that, our world has been turned upside down with all the new challenges ahead. It’s exciting, no question, but it’s also a bit scary because of the unknowns.”
People also read…
Lindenwood will begin transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I this summer.
But first, Brown and the Lions have a softball season to play. And so far, things have probably gone a little better than expected. The Lions, who finished 23-15 last spring, are 21-3 and on a 15-game winning streak.
“I expected us to be good, but I’m not sure I knew we were going to be that good,” joked Brown, whose squad leads the Great Lakes Valley Conference 8-0. “I inherited a very talented group, a group blessed with some excellent senior leaders. I did my best to avoid them and they play hard and find ways to win ball games.”
Lindenwood has a pair of top front-line pitchers, junior Amanda Weyh and graduate student Marina Esparza. Both are right handed. Weyh is 12-0 with a .52 ERA this season; In 89 2/3 innings, she has 55 hits and allowed just eight earned runs while striking 94 and walking 10. Also, she hits .324 with 12 RBIs.
Esparza is 7-3 with a 1.39 ERA. She struck out 71 and ran 23 over 61 innings.
“Our Team ERA leads the nation,” Brown said, mentioning pitching coach Ali Brems. “The two[pitchers]have embraced their role as leaders and really set a tone for this team.”
The Lions’ strength in the middle continues with grads Whitney Wendel (.407, two HR, 23 RBIs, five SB) and Megan Clark (.225, 10 RBI) at shortstop and second base respectively. Senior Taylor Bushman (.379, 20 carries, 16 SB) patrols midfield while junior Morgan Gersch (.306, 12 RBIs) is team leader at the catcher.
“Morgan calls every pitch so ERA is hers, too,” Brown said. “She really did a great job for us.”
Sophomore Whitney Kinser (.403, 13 RBIs) is the team’s designated hitter with freshman Lauren Pelton (.302) at third base and senior Riley Luetkenhaus, a product of St. Dominic High, at first base. The other outfield spots are occupied by newcomers — Irelynn West (.317, two HR, 12 RBI, eight SB) on the right and Nicole Henson (.296, six RBI, 12 SB) on the left.
“To be honest, we really haven’t talked much about the winning streak,” Brown said. “The focus with this group is pitch to pitch, inning to inning. We respect the game and work to do whatever it takes to stay successful.
“The goal for us today is to try to be better than yesterday.”
Brown has no hesitation in naming her squad as a contender for the GLVC. But the coach also knows that teams like Indianapolis (4-0, 22-2), Southern Indiana (4-0, 18-8), Missouri-St. Louis (7-1, 18-9) and Drury (5-1, 19-8).
“It hasn’t been easy so far, and it won’t be easy the rest of the way,” she said. “The key for us now is finding a way to just keep it going. We just want to get out there every day to compete and have fun.”