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Waldorf set to battle Jamestown in NSAA Tournament opener

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Matt Oliver

ABERDEEN, South Dakota – The Waldorf University softball team is set to battle the University of Jamestown in the opening round of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Tournament on Friday.

Waldorf (17-27) takes on the Jimmies (32-13) at Players Softball Complex, starting at 1 p.m.

Jamestown, which is receiving votes in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, was tested by the Warriors four times during the regular season.

“We are definitely excited to have another shot at Jamestown,” Waldorf coach Lexy Determan said.

Two of the matchups between the teams were early-season nonconference contests in February, which saw the Jimmies prevail by scores of 6-1 and 3-1. Jamestown escaped once again, winning 5-2 and 6-3 during April’s conference showdowns at Forest City.

The Warriors enter the postseason led by Hattie Hupke, who is sporting a .389 batting average and 58 totals hits on the season. Hupke, a sophomore shortstop from Carlisle, has produced four doubles and 12 RBIs while collecting a team-high nine stolen bases in 10 attempts. Hupke also leads the team with 33 runs scored.

Jessica Abrahamson has put together a strong senior season at Waldorf. The West Bend native is hitting .360 and leads the team with five home runs and 31 RBIs. Abrahamson ranks second on the team in total hits (49) and is tied for third in doubles (10). She currently owns a team-best .559 slugging percentage.

Junior Trista Bures has been solid at the plate in her first season with the Warriors. With a .298 batting average, Bures has went deep with three homers while driving in 29 runs. Thirteen of her 37 hits have resulted in doubles, which ties for first on the team.

Senior Maggie Hawley comes into the tournament with a .295 batting average while junior Ashton May is hitting .290 with 13 RBIs.

Andrea Hartmann has been one of Waldorf’s top performers in the batter’s box and pitcher’s circle. Hartmann holds a .280 batting average, a .460 slugging percentage, has gone deep four times and has provided 29 RBIs. She ranks third on the team in total hits (42) and matched a team-high in doubles (13).

Junior Brittani Sanchez has come on strong down the season stretch, recording a .348 batting average and tallying 13 runs.

Senior Maggie Eden enters the postseason hitting .273 with a homer and 20 RBIs. Eden has cranked out 36 hits, including 11 doubles and two triples.

Senior Kaitlin Murphy has also done damage, entering Friday’s matchup with a .259 batting average to go with three homers and 24 RBIs.  With 35 hits on the season, Murphy has pounded out 10 doubles.

Sophomore Taylor Bell has brought a burst of speed to the lineup. Recording a .352 on-base percentage, she’s created problems for opposing defenses all season. Bell has swiped eight bases and crossed home plate 23 times.

Inside the circle, Hartmann leads the Warriors with a 5-8 record and a 3.58 earned run average. She’s also struck out 32 batters.

Hawley comes into the tournament with a 5-8 record and has notched a team-high 35 strikeouts. Waldorf has also received contributions from sophomores Kaylie Brindley and Briley Sullivan, who have combined for six wins this year.

Jamestown locked up the No. 3 seed in the NSAA Tournament after posting a 16-7 conference record. Waldorf earned the No. 6 seed, finishing with a 10-14 league mark.

The Jimmies rank fourth in the NAIA in total doubles (99) and second in doubles per game (2.2). Jamestown is currently No. 10 in the nation with 9.89 hits a game and ranks 15th with 6.58 runs per game.

Emily Newman leads the Jimmies in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.480), hits (73), doubles (27), triples (3), runs scored (47), slugging percentage (.796) and on-base percentage (.526). Newman ranks second in the country in doubles. She has contributed five homers and 48 RBIs.

Autumn Wang has added power, delivering team-highs with 11 homers and 56 RBIs. She’s currently hitting .374 and has amassed a .755 slugging percentage.

Brittany Rheault has paced Jamestown as one of the team’s top pitchers. She is 13-7 on the season with a 2.84 ERA and 117 strikeouts while limiting opposing hitters to a .244 average.

Hanna Dunnigan, who’s been a force for the Jimmies at the plate and in the circle, owns a .327 batting average with four homers and 25 RBIs. Dunnigan turned in a 13-5 record during the regular season, led Jamestown with 130 strikeouts and has held opposing hitters to a .261 average.

The Jimmies have gone deep 28 times, own a .339 team batting average and have seven players hitting above .300 this season. Waldorf enters the tournament with a .296 team batting average.

The Warriors had Jamestown on the brink in the first go-around during the conference season. They owned a 2-1 lead and were one out away from claiming victory before a costly error allowed the Jimmies to spark a four-run seventh inning. Waldorf is looking to limit miscues in the NSAA Tournament.

“We need to eliminate errors and consistently look for the next play,” Determan said. “We have had a few games where we have played smart, in the way of not ever giving extra bases. This includes making some great plays to keep base runners at bay.”

Strong pitching performances are what the Warriors will need to bring down the Jimmies and advance in the double-elimination tournament, which concludes with a best-of-three championship series on Sunday or Monday. The conference champion earns an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.

Averaging 8.04 hits a game, Waldorf has shown the ability to surge past opponents throughout the season. Remaining locked in at the plate will be crucial for the Warriors as they make their first postseason appearance since 2013.

“Offensively, we need to just settle in and not guess pitches, but react to them,” Determan said. “We need to just take it one base runner at a time and one base hit at a time.”