The season hasn’t been an easy one for the Bellevue University softball team, but they rallied together down the stretch to take the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament crown.
The Bruins topped Central Baptist College 7-4 Friday in the championship game to finish the tourney with a 3-0 mark and get an automatic berth to the NAIA Opening Round.
“It has been an absolute grind this season,” Bruin coach Michala Cimino said. “It’s been a tough year but this is one of the most rewarding conference tournaments I’ve won at the university.”
BU has battled through the season with just 12 active players, putting a lot of stress on that group. Cimino praised the fight in the group of girls who were playing their best at the right time.
The Bruins defeated Oklahoma Wesleyan and Central Baptist twice on their way to the tournament crown. They were a combined 0-4 against those two teams in the regular season.
“From the beginning of the year, we talked about winning the right games, and that was conference and tournament,” Cimino said. “This team just believed and believed and have a really good mindset. They weren’t ready to take the uniform off.”
With such little depth on the squad, the pitching staff has had an important job this season in eating up innings and that continued through MCAC tourney play. Junior Taylor Mohler and freshman Kelli Fisher pitched every inning in the tournament for the Bruins and have carried the load the whole season.
“Those two had a lot on their plate this year,” Cimino said. “When they started the came we needed them to finish it so we didn’t have to use up a bench player.”
The Bruins found out Tuesday night where they will play at the Opening Round, but regardless of where they end up, they will go in with plenty of confidence.
“We have nothing to lose,” Cimino said. “We’re the underdogs and I seriously think we can make a deep run.”
MCAC Tourney results:
Bellevue 2, Oklahoma Wesleyan 1 - Katy Shupe laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Alyssa Matoba in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off win in the first round match-up.
Shelby Kindelin recorded BU’s other RBI and added three hits. Kristin Burhenne added two more hits.
Mohler pitched a complete game one-hitter for the win and struck out 13 in the process.
Bellevue 5, Central Baptist 0 - Fisher earned the win after tossing a complete-game shutout, scattering six hits and striking out nine.
The Bruin offense got two RBIs apiece from Ashley Gigax and Courtney Schendt, with Schendt’s coming on a home run.
Bellevue 7, Central Baptist 4 - The Bruins scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to break a 2-all tie and gain control of the MCAC title game.
Shupe and Burhenne each drove in two runs to lead te offense and Katie Malloy added three hits, two of them doubles.
Taylor Mohler earned the win on the hill while striking out seven.