SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – For the second year in a row, Midland University’s softball season came to an end at the NAIA Opening Round after a Tuesday loss to Indiana University-Southeast.
The No. 25-ranked Warriors (31-12 overall) fell 1-0 to the Grenadiers (33-24 overall) to eliminate them from the Springfield Bracket and end 2019 on a three game losing skid.
The Grenadiers used some trickery to score their only run of the ballgame in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a Jaylee Hinrichs pitch to Ashtyn Sharp was nearly called strike three, Becca Schoenung took off and stole home on a delayed steal as the throw got away from Midland catcher Kylie Engleman.
It was the only run the Grenadiers managed against the Warriors, but it was enough to survive the win-or-go-home matchup. The Grenadiers took advantage of two Midland errors in the inning to score the decisive run.
Schouenung not only scored the winning run, but kept the Warriors off of the scoreboard by tossing 6.0+ scoreless innings and allowing just one hit in her outing. Her performance came one day after Emily Weiss threw nearly 200 pitches in a 14-inning game on Monday versus Marian (Ind.).
Down only one run, the Warriors threatened to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh inning. Angela Brazil struck out by reached on a throwing error by the catcher, leading to a bunt-single from Brianna Brabec.
Weiss replaced Schoenung with two runners on and zero outs to face Kylie Engleman, who attempted to sacrifice bunt the tying run to third base. Engleman reached on a fielder’s choice as Brazil was forced out at third.
After a 1-1 pitch to Phares was called a strike, the Grenadiers faked a throw to second base and scattered as if the throw had gone into centerfield. Brabec was fooled and took off for third base where she was tagged out by Justice Kline to end the ballgame.
Having only made the National Tournament by winning the River States Conference postseason tournament, the Grenadiers were playing with house money and held nothing back.
Midland’s season came to a disappointing end, but not after the Warriors put together another incredible run that landed them in the NAIA Opening Round for the second consecutive season.
During the 2019 season, the Warriors earned the program’s first ever win over a No. 1 ranked team when they defeated the Oklahoma City University Stars 2-0 on March 3. That win was a precursor to a terrific 16-game winning streak (tied for longest in program history) for the Warriors that helped propel them to a share of the Great Plains Athletic Conference regular season title for the second year in a row.
In just two seasons in Fremont, pitcher Jaylee Hinrichs left her name all over the record books. Hinrichs finishes her career with 610 strikeouts, ranking third in program history. In 2019 alone, she led the GPAC and is currently second nationally with 292 strikeouts. Her 45 career wins also rank fourth in program history.
To top it off, Hinrichs was named the 2019 GPAC Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Junior catcher/designated player Katlin Anders was named the 2019 GPAC Player of the Year after posting some of the best offensive numbers Midland softball has ever seen. Anders led the GPAC in batting average for the second time in her career and tied for second in the conference with 11 regular season home runs.
With one hit in Springfield, Anders finishes the season with a .518 batting average, setting a new Midland single-season record.
Head coach Mike Heard was also named the 2019 Coach of the Year, an award he and the Warriors have earned in back-to-back years.
While the season has come to a close, 2019 was a successful and memorable edition of Midland softball. Having reached the National Tournament Opening Round once again, the 2020 Warriors will be looking to create history of their own and add on to one of the most impressive runs of success the program has ever experienced.