YANKTON, S.D. – Midland University’s softball team is now guaranteed to host one of the brackets of the Great Plains Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament after a Tuesday sweep locked the Warriors into one of the top two seeds.
The No. 20-ranked Warriors (27-7, 17-3 GPAC) outlasted the Mount Marty Lancers (17-21, 8-10 GPAC) 12-8 in a high-scoring first game before cruising to a five-inning 11-0 win in game two.
The wins guarantee that Midland will host part of the GPAC tournament bracket for the second straight season at Christensen Field on Thursday, May 2 and Friday, May 3. Another school will host the other half of the field with four teams playing at each site. The winners of each bracket will then play a three-game championship series at the site of the higher of the two remaining seeds on Saturday, May 4. In years past the championship game was played the following Monday but with new NAIA guidelines, the tournament was pushed up.
In order to secure home-field advantage for the bracket-style format, the Warriors had their hands full with the Lancers in a high-powered game one on Tuesday.
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead thanks to five runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a two-RBI double for Sierra Athow and a two-run home run from Bobbi Singleton, her second of the season.
Midland stayed up 5-0 until the bottom of the third inning when Mount Marty managed to push some runs across against Warrior starter Jaylee Hinrichs. The Lancers notched three hits in the inning and benefited from two Midland fielding errors to put three runs on the board, with the big blow being a two-run home run from Rylee Denomy.
The Warriors registered another big, five-run inning in the fifth as Katlin Anders led off the inning with a solo home run. More runs came later in the inning on a two-RBI single from Brianna Brabec and a pinch-hit two-run home run from Madison Plummer, her second of 2019.
Mount Marty didn’t go away and responded with two runs in the bottom half on a two-run home run form Amber Writer. It was the first time this season that Hinrichs allowed two home runs in one game.
The Warriors added some much-needed insurance with two runs in the sixth inning, this time on a two-run single from Alex Van Der Werf.
Michaela Jackson replaced Hinrichs to start the sixth inning and was replaced by Hailee Fliam after a pair of walks. Fliam got Paige Kramer to ground into a fielder’s choice and struck out Makenzi Howard to end the threat.
Trailing by seven entering the final inning, Writer and Denomy led off the inning with back-to-back home runs off of Fliam, cutting the deficit to 12-7. Writer’s two home runs in game one rose her season total to 10, which now leads the GPAC.
The Lancers added one more run on an RBI single from Dani Lowe but couldn’t stage a big enough comeback as Midland hung on for a 12-8 win.
Game two started similarly to game one for the Warriors as they hung three runs on the board in the first inning with RBI hits coming from Athow, Anders, and Brabec. The Warriors added one more run in the third inning on a fielder’s choice RBI from Angela Brazil.
Midland scored seven more runs in the fourth and fifth innings combined to push the score to 11-0 and win by way of the mercy rule. Anders launched a two-run home run in the fourth which was followed later by an RBI single from Brazil. Anders’ home run was her second on the day and her ninth on the season, which places her second in the GPAC home run race behind Writer.
Andrea Cespedes added an RBI single in the fifth, which later set up a three-run home run for Athow, her third of the season, which served as the final blow in the blowout victory.
Hinrichs was not herself in game one but got back to her dominating ways in game two as she allowed just two hits in five innings. She also struck out 11 of the 17 batters she faced in game two. The senior earned the win in both games to improve her record to 18-4.
Midland’s current winning streak is now up to seven games as the Warriors head into their final regular season series with Northwestern (16-19, 9-7 GPAC). The Red Raiders still have four games versus Mount Marty and College of Saint Mary before coming to Fremont on Saturday, April 27.
First pitch of game one versus Northwestern is set for 1:00 p.m.