SouthtownStar Athletes On Campus: Alex Nickel sparkles for Saint Louis softball team
By Mike Walsh For Sun-Times Media May 23, 2014 5:10PM
Alex Nickel, of Saint Louis | Supplied photo
Updated: June 26, 2014 6:27AM
Judging by her impressive statistics and the handful of accolades Alex Nickel scored this season, her acclimation to Division I softball went quite smoothly.
In her first year as a member of Saint Louis University’s softball team, the Marian Catholic graduate helped the Billikens finish 30-21 overall and 12-5 in the Atlantic 10.
In the A-10’s postseason tournament, Saint Louis finished second, losing to top-seeded Fordham in the championship game.
On an individual level, Nickel, the Billikens’ starting shortstop, was named to the A-10’s All-Tournament Team, while also claiming a berth on the A-10’s All-Rookie Team.
“It was something I wasn’t really thinking about,” Nickel said. “But as freshmen, we feel like we had something to prove. My teammates let me play comfortably and I was relaxed.
“It was not something I was expecting, but it was really cool.”
Nickel concluded the season with a .333 batting average, good for second on the team. The Steger native started all 51 games, finishing second in runs (37) and hits (49), tying for third in home runs (3) and finishing fifth in doubles (7) and sixth in RBI (20).
“It was a big adjustment to playing college softball,” Nickel said. “It was a combination of everything. It was leaving home, I had to bump my game up to Division I softball and I had to take care of my academics.
“It was hard at first, because I had to study a certain amount of hours, go to class, go to practice and do homework. But my coaches from high school told me to hang in there and that it will get better.
“People around me told me not to worry and just to keep going and that I can do it. The adjustment was picking up my game and balancing everything out. Once I did that, it was so much easier.”
Nickel also was chosen the A-10’s Rookie of the Week twice, the most recent coming the week ending May 4.
In guiding Saint Louis to home wins over Bradley, 8-1 on April 30, and LaSalle, 8-4 and 10-6 on May 3, Nickel batted .600 (6-for-10) while leading the Billikens with six hits and five runs.
“It’s an honor to be noticed and that you’re playing well,” Nickel said. “But we just played for each other and the coaches.
“It wasn’t ‘I’ or ‘me’, but what are we going to do to win this game and win for each other. That was our mentality.”
Wisconsin-River Falls forward Christian George was named to the five-man Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s All-Sportsmanship Team in hockey for the 2013-14 season.
The Orland Park native appeared in 25 of the Falcons’ 27 games as UW-River Falls was 15-9-3 overall and 8-4 in the WIAC.
George, a freshman, led the team in assists with 14. He was second in points with 20 and tied for sixth in goals with six. Of George’s six goals, two were game-winners.
George also was the WIAC Athlete of the Week in hockey for the period ending Feb. 16.