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Former Anamosa High School standout and current Mount Mercy University senior Tawny Menster delivers a pitch for the Mustangs. Menster is off to a hot start to the 2019 season. (Photo courtesy Mount Mercy Sports Information)

      CEDAR RAPIDS - Softball has been a part of Tawny Menster’s life for just about as long as she can remember.

      So, there is very little that could possibly keep the former Anamosa High School standout off the field.

      And that includes a daunting academic schedule at Mount Mercy University.

      But through three years and now into her senior season with the Mustangs’ program, Menster has continued to shine not only on the softball field, but in the classroom working towards her nursing degree.

      “It’s been tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Menster, who is turning in an outstanding campaign for the Mount Mercy team already this spring, even being named the Heart of America Conference Pitcher of the Week back in late February.

      “Juggling softball, school work and clinicals has been challenging over the past couple of years. On top of that I work, too. But it’s that tight schedule that really keeps me stay focused and on track. I’ve got very little time to just sit back and relax, but that’s where softball comes in. Playing softball at Mount Mercy has been my escape. When I’m struggling or just having a bad day, I can always look forward to getting out and pitching or hitting. It’s a part of my life that I’m really going to miss once it’s over here in a few weeks.”

      Menster hasn’t missed a beat this season hitting .309 with five home runs and 34 runs batted in for the Mustangs at the plate through 32 games.

      She’s also the team’s No. 1 pitcher, logging 70.2 innings in the circle with 65 strikeouts posting a solid 2.67 earned run average.

      “The season has been kind of up and down for us as a team,” said Menster, as the Mustangs sport a 20-14 mark overall and 13-9 ledger against league foes with about a quarter of the campaign still yet to be played.

      “Pitching has been going really well for me this year. After getting off to a good start to the season my hitting was in a little slump there for a while but now that seems to be coming back again, too. My dad helped me get back to basics at the plate and it’s worked. Hopefully I can finish the season off strong.”

      Menster, who when she isn’t pitching, plays outfield for the Mustangs and is on target for a second straight first-team All-Conference honor and Gold Glove award.

      “My goal is to finish the sport with no regrets,” Menster said. “I don’t want to look back and think I should have done this or that differently. For the most part, I think I’m on track for that.”

      Menster is also on track to graduate in May, and has already accepted a position as a nurse on the orthopedic floor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

      Does graduation and a job mean the end of softball in Menster’s life?

      “Not a chance,” she said. “I just can’t go through life without softball. I can see myself getting back into coaching again someday (Menster was recently an assistant coach at Center Point-Urbana, helping the team to the state tourney), but that’s going to have to wait until I figure out how it fits into my work schedule.

      “What I do know is that playing a sport in college is hard. At times even very hard, but in the end all the work it takes to be a student-athlete has been worth it. These are times I’ll never forget. My teammates have been like my second family and I wouldn’t trade the last four years for anything.”

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