SIOUX CITY, IOWA – The ebb and flow of emotions from heart-stopping offensive, defensive and pitching performances was palpable at Jensen Family Softball Complex Saturday, May 4.
As second-seeded Morningside College and fourth-seeded University of Jamestown battled through 19 innings of action in front of a rapt crowd of better of 200 fans gathered around the Mustangs’ home field, a belief that had been growing throughout the season reached its pinnacle for head coach Jessica Jones-Sitzmann‘s squad.
“This young team just needed to believe in themselves,” the Mustangs head coach commented after her team pummeled the Jimmies 13-0 in five innings in game one of the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament championship series, were within three outs of a 2-0 sweep before UJ tallied five runs in the seventh to win 7-5 and force an ultimate series decider and then responded with a thrilling 3-1 win that locked up a third 30-win season in the last four seasons and a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championships berth for the first time since 2017. “They got down a little bit after the way the second game ended, but we kept telling them ‘trust the process, trust the process’. They did – putting together a total team effort in the final game. We’ll need to take this up a notch now … we’re on the big stage!”
So many heroes for a pumped up Maroon fan base to celebrate with on the home field that generated a 17-1 record after senior pitcher Hallie Misiaszek (SR/Mitchell, SD) (Mitchell, S.D.) finished off her third start of the day and 18th inning of pitching with a fly ball that sophomore left fielder Carson Cameron (SO/Herman, NE) (Herman, Neb.) squeezed ever so tightly to wrap up the conference tournament title. Misiaszek, as has been the pattern this season, was one of those standouts, constantly digging down at every turn to keep Mside close or in the lead. She was nicked for only four earned runs during the afternoon in route to two wins while striking out six.
“I really had to rely (on my teammates) during the latter parts of the day,” the Mustangs’ ace noted. “(Three games in one day) is something I hadn’t done before, but to be a part of this is something that’s absolutely amazing. Being able to do this with this senior class is wonderful.
“I kept telling myself I had to be as good on my last pitch as I was on my first pitch,” she added. “I was thinking ‘Don’t get tired, don’t get tired’ but it was 75 out here, they were three intense games … The biggest motivation was getting to the national tournament. There’s time to rest when today was over.”
At the plate, freshman third baseman Morgan Nixon (FR/Omaha, NE) (Omaha, Neb.) led the game one barrage which included a nine-run second inning roll. She drilled two doubles and drove in four runs. Four players bashed two hits each in the second match-up, as senior first baseman Rebecca Riley (SR/Gothenburg, NE) (Gothenburg, Neb.) smashed a two-run double and was part of the multiple-hit quartet along with Cameron, freshman right fielder Ellie Cropley (FR/Sioux City, IA) (Sioux City, Iowa) and junior second baseman Cortney Joiner (JR/Carlisle, IA) (Carlisle, Iowa). Joiner came back in the final contest with what easily could have been the moment of the day, as she slashed a triple just inside the third-base bag that sparked the eventual two-run fifth inning rally that led to Morningside’s tournament victory celebration.
Morningside starts preparations for the 2019 NAIA tournament early next week. Dates, a location and times for their appearance will be announced later.