FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s women’s softball team honored their senior class and earned a share of the 2019 Great Plains Athletic Conference regular season title with a win on Monday afternoon, granting the Warriors an automatic berth in the 2019 NAIA National Tournament.
The No. 22 Warriors (28-8, 18-4 GPAC) split a doubleheader with the Northwestern Red Raiders (18-23, 11-11 GPAC) on Monday to conclude the regular season and secure a share of the regular season title with the (RV) Morningside Mustangs (25-8, 18-4 GPAC).
Midland will claim the No. 1 seed in the upcoming GPAC Tournament as the Warriors own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Mustangs. It’s the second straight year that the two schools have shared the regular season title.
The Warriors clinched a share of the title with a game one win on Monday behind another stellar pitching performance from senior Jaylee Hinrichs. Hinrichs pitched the complete seven innings and struck out 19 hitters while allowing just two earned runs.
Midland took a lead in the third inning on a two-run home run from Katlin Anders that put the Warriors up 2-0. The homer earned Anders a share of the GPAC regular season home run crown as she finished the season with 10, tying Mount Marty’s Amber Writer.
Northwestern got on the board on an RBI single from Devni Dreesen in the fourth inning, but Midland got the run back as Kylie Engleman singled home Angela Brazil in the bottom half.
In the sixth inning, a solo home run from Jennifer Boeve pulled the score to a 3-2 Midland lead. The Red Raiders loaded the bases later in the inning, thanks in part to two dropped third strikes, but Hinrichs recorded her fourth strikeout of the inning to end the threat.
The Warriors added insurance in the bottom half as Madison Plummer doubled home Brianna Brabec, leading to a two-run home run for Engleman, her third of the year. Hinrichs struck out the side in the top of the seventh as the Warriors clinched a share of the title with a 6-2 win.
Hinirchs improved her record to 19-4 and secured the GPAC ERA crown as she finished the regular season with a 1.09 ERA.
After the senior’s impressive performance, the other Midland seniors were honored as part of Senior Day as Alexis Ramirez, Stephanie Norrick, Madison Plummer, and Jamie Phares all started game two.
Game two was closely contested through three innings, but freshman starter Hailee Fliam ran into trouble in the fourth as the Red Raiders found a groove.
Northwestern tallied six hits in the inning and plated eight runs to take a commanding lead and force Fliam from the game after batting through the order. Midland also committed two errors in the inning that aided Northwestern’s offense.
The Red Raiders added another run in the top of the fifth inning as Emily Strasser notched an RBI single off of relief pitcher Michaela Jackson. In the bottom half of the inning for Midland, Sierra Athow homered to right centerfield, her fourth of the season, to bring the score to 9-1, but the Warriors stranded two runners on base in the inning as Northwestern claimed game two by way of the mercy rule.
With the regular season officially over, Katlin Anders has won the GPAC batting title for the second time in her career as she finished her junior season with a .527 average. Sierra Athow finished second to Anders in the race with a .443 average this season.
Anders also led the GPAC in slugging percentage (.955), on-base percentage (.573), hits (59), total bases (107), and tied for the home run lead (10).
Jaylee Hinrichs, the reigning GPAC Pitcher of the Year, led the conference with a 1.09 ERA, an opponent batting average of .131, and 224 batters struck out in 2019.
Full lists of individual and team statistical leaders for the GPAC can be found via DakStats.
As the No. 1 seed in the upcoming GPAC Tournament, the Warriors will play host to No. 4 Northwestern, No. 5 Jamestown, and No. 8 Dordt on Thursday and Friday. A full schedule for the GPAC Tournament can be found on the GPAC website.