Bedford Bulldogs

(Bedford) -- Bedford softball has found a groove and enters a showdown with one of their biggest rivals fresh off an entertaining and successful week. 

"I'm pretty happy with how we've played lately," Coach Dan Musich said. "We've started hitting the ball and making less errors." 

The Bulldogs currently sit at 8-3 and have won six of their last seven -- including a strong showing at their home tournament.. They currently hold victories over Lamoni, Stanton, Tri-Center, Orient-Macksburg, Southwest Valley, Nodaway Valley, East Mills and Griswold. The Bulldogs' losses have come to Nodaway Valley, an undefeated Exira-EHK squad and a Wayne team that qualified for state last year.

Musich feels the work his team has put in every day is finally starting to pay off.

"We've been doing the same drills," he said. "It's really just grinding it out every day and doing what we do and doing it well."

The Bulldogs have flourished offensively as of late and find themselves hitting .309 as a team. 

Junior Vivian Tracy currently paces the Bulldogs' offensive efforts with a .387 batting average, .558 on-base and .677 slugging. Tracy has also knocked three homers and drove in a team-high 16 RBIs. Tracy recently hit a walkoff grand slam 

"She's just come out really well this year," Musich said. "She's really coachable. She's a great kid. She swings the bat hard and stays focused. That's why she's hitting the ball hard."

Selena Valenzuela is batting .345 while junior Mallory Moyer is currently hitting .333. Darcy Davis, Emily Baker, Leslie Sheley, Macie Sefrit, Destry Bassinger and Breanna Simmons have also been vital for Bedford offensively.

The Bulldogs have relied on Baker and Simmons in the circle, and it's come with some success. 

Baker boasts a 7-3 record with a 5.50 ERA and 44 strikeouts. 

"Emily throws pretty hard," Musich said. "Sometimes she struggles with her control and confidence because she is so young, but it just seems she keeps getting better and better."

Simmons -- an eighth-grader -- has made two starts and recorded one win while striking out six in 10 1/3 innings of action. 

"She's just been a pleasant surprise," Musich said. "Having someone we can throw in there. She did a great job the other day against East Mills. They're (Simmons and Baker) are just trying to improve every day.

The sledding only gets tougher for the Bulldogs from here. They open their week tonight against rival Mount Ayr -- a defending state qualifier -- before facing Lenox and Martensdale-St. Marys, who were both previously ranked. Coach Musich is hopeful his team can show the same grit in the next three games that they've shown over the last seven. 

"I just don't want them to be intimidated or afraid to play these teams," he said. "I want them to go in there with some swagger and confidence and not afraid to play at a high level."

As the postseason looms, Musich says his team's goal is to continue to do what they have been doing -- improve.

"If we can continue to do that, get a good draw, continue to play well and get the most out of our kids and do the best we can." 

The complete interview with Coach Musich can be heard below.