The Waldorf University softball team is set to clash with Bellevue University in the opening round of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Tournament.
Waldorf (15-27) kicks off the five-day double-elimination tournament on Friday in a 10 a.m. (MST) matchup against Bellevue (45-12) at North Softball Complex.
The Bruins, who are ranked No. 23 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, received the top seed in the NSAA tournament after securing the regular-season conference title with a 20-6 conference record. Waldorf enters the tournament as the No. 8 seed after finishing 7-19 in the NSAA standings.
Bellevue closed out the regular season, sweeping the Warriors in a four-game conference series at Forest City. The Bruins topped Waldorf 8-3 and won 14-5 in six innings last Friday. Bellevue then captured a 7-2 victory and won 9-0 in five innings the following day.
Waldorf’s Kennedy Vinchattle currently leads the conference with a .458 batting average, going 55-for-120 at the plate thus far this season. The junior from Boone leads the Warriors with 17 homers and 60 RBIs. Vinchattle also tops the team in hits, doubles (17), runs scored (35), total bases (125), walks (27), on-base percentage (.550) and slugging percentage (1.042).
Vinchattle’s slugging percentage ranks first in the NAIA. She’s third in the nation in home runs per game (0.405), fourth in RBIs per game (1.429), fourth in total bases per game (2.976), 14th in doubles per game (0.405) and 17th in batting average. Vinchattle’s totals in doubles and walks mark single-season school records since Waldorf became a four-year program and joined the NAIA.
Junior Hattie Hupke is putting together a strong season for the Warriors. She has a compiled a .358 batting average and a .404 on-base percentage while providing 18 RBIs and 33 runs.
Brittani Sanchez is sporting a .333 batting average. The senior from Mason City has contributed 19 RBIs and 33 runs while leading the Warriors with three triples and nine sacrifice hits.
Taylor Navratil has recorded a .330 batting average in her debut season with Waldorf. The freshman from Plymouth has tallied 26 runs and a team-high 12 stolen bases on the season.
Freshman Payge Jurgens is currently hitting .309 for the Warriors. She has also delivered five homers, notched 28 RBIs and crossed home plate 11 times.
Waldorf senior Trista Bures has added two homers and driven in 22 runs while posting seven doubles and a .286 batting average.
Junior Briley Sullivan has put together a .286 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage, going deep twice this season.
Sophomore Madison Mason is hitting .268 with one homer on the year.
Inside the pitcher’s circle, junior Kaylie Brindley leads the Warriors with a 9-13 record and has struck out a team-high 75 batters. Waldorf has also received contributions from Sullivan and junior McKenna Marcinkowski, who have combined for six wins on the season.
The Warriors enter the postseason with a .297 batting average. They’ve produced at the plate, averaging 8.05 hits a game while launching 29 homers and smacking 48 doubles.
Meanwhile, Bellevue comes into the conference tournament with a .315 batting average and has cranked out 8.61 hits a game. The Bruins rank third in the nation in triples (23), sixth in total runs scored (340), sixth in RBIs (308), 10th in hits, 10th in homers per game (0.860) and 10th in doubles (95).
Bellevue is led by Erin Sharpe, who tops the team in nine offensive categories with a .429 batting average, 26 homers and 75 RBIs. She leads the Bruins with 76 hits, 16 doubles, a .972 slugging percentage, a .490 on-base percentage, 172 total bases and 20 walks. Sharpe ranks first in the nation in homers and holds third in RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases.
Bellevue’s Hannah Carter is currently hitting .408 and is tied for second in the nation with eight triples.
Sydney Robertson has stolen a conference-best 19 bases on the season for the Bruins.
Bellevue has six players on its roster with at least a .300 batting average. The Warriors are focusing on keeping the Bruins in check to prevent runs from going up on the board.
“We will need to pitch smart through their entire lineup,” Waldorf coach Lexy Determan said. “We will have to play solid defense to keep runners off base to minimize the effect if they have a big hit.”
Bellevue’s pitching staff maintains a 1.49 earned-run average (ERA), which ranks seventh in the country and is also seventh after striking out 307 batters. Waldorf aims for strong at-bats to knock out Bellevue’s pitchers.
“We also need to continue to have good at-bats off their talented pitchers and continue to attack with runners on base,” Determan said.
Leading the Bruins in the circle is Kelli Fisher (27-4). In 200 innings pitched, Fisher has fanned 171 batters and issued 14 walks. Fisher ranks fourth in the NAIA in wins and seventh with a 0.91 ERA.
With a 1.10 ERA, Sharpe (10-1) ranks second in the conference behind Fisher. Lexi Lecalsey (8-5) sits fourth in the conference with a 2.09 ERA.
The Warriors are striving to stay locked in throughout the full seven innings of each contest.
“We need to be present every pitch, every inning, no matter the score,” Determan said. “This team has the potential to come back from anything and we have to make sure that we don’t give in at any point.”
Along with consistent play, Waldorf expects to bring high energy and strong morale into each outing.
“We need to stay positive through the whole tournament,” Determan said. “We have to play selflessly and pick each other up.”
“We cannot let one bad thing snowball,” Determan added. “We have to get right back to work. We have to focus on creating our own energy and not just matching the team we are playing or matching the moment that we are in.”
NSAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Tournament Bracket)
Friday, May 5
Bracket A – Field 2
- Game 1: No. 8 Waldorf (15-27) vs. No. 1 Bellevue (45-12) – 10 a.m. MST (Live Stats) (Video)
- Game 2: No. 5 Mayville State University (20-24) vs. No. 4 Viterbo University (21-29) – 12 p.m.
Bracket B – Field 4
- Game 1: No. 7 Presentation College (21-30) vs. No. 2 University of Jamestown (36-18) – 11 a.m.
- Game 2: No. 6 Valley City State University (19-28) vs. No. 3 Dickinson State University (22-22) – 1 p.m.
Loser’s Out Game
- Bracket A Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser – 2 p.m. @ Field 2
- Bracket B Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser – 3 p.m. @ Field 4
Winner’s Bracket Game
- Bracket A Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner – 4 p.m. @ Field 2
- Bracket B Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner – 5 p.m. @ Field 4
Saturday, May 6
Loser’s Out Game
- Bracket A Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser – 11 a.m. @ Field 4
- Bracket B Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser – 12 p.m. @ Field 2
Bracket Championship Game
- Bracket A Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner – 1 p.m. @ Field 4
- Bracket B Game 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner – 2 p.m. @ Field 2
Sunday, May 7
If Bracket A and/or B suffer first loss in tournament:
- Bracket A: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser – 12 p.m. @ Field 4
- Bracket B: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser – 12 p.m. @ Field 2
If there is no ‘if necessary’ game, then NSAA Championship Game – Best-of-three series (Field 4):
- Championship Game #1: Bracket A winner vs. Bracket B winner – 12 p.m. or 2:30 p.m.
- Championship Game #2 – 2:30 p.m. (if only two games)
Monday, May 8, 2016
NSAA Championship Game – Best-of-three series (if there were ‘if necessary’ bracket games on Sunday):
- Championship Game #2 – 11 a.m.
- Championship Game #3 (if necessary) – 1:30 p.m.