Beaver Fever Friday – Morgan Benedict – Softball

Beavers battle for playoff spot in final weekend of NSIC action

Bemidji State Softball ends regular season with three home series

The Bemidji State University Softball team ends its regular season this week and weekend with three home series beginning Thursday, April 27 and ending Sunday. The Beavers begin their six-game homestand Thursday by hosting University of Minnesota Crookston then host Southwest Minnesota State University Saturday and conclude the regular season against University of Sioux Falls, Sunday. The Beavers (19-23, 8-12 NSIC) are fighting for a spot in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Softball Tournament for the first time since 2017 and currently sit one spot out of the 10-team postseason tournament.

The Beavers start their doubleheader against the Golden Eagles at 2 p.m., then on Saturday against the Mustangs at 1 p.m., and the last doubleheader of the season begins at noon against the Cougars. To secure a playoff spot BSU needs to finish in the top-10 in conference standings and are just outside at 11th. The last time the Beavers made the NSIC tournament was 2017 where they fell one game short of reaching the championship. All games will be played at the BSU Softball Field.

Bemidji State is chasing two of its three opponents over the weekend with USF sitting eighth in the NSIC standings (11-13, .458) and SMSU at ninth (10-12, .455). The Beavers (8-12) currently hold a .400 conference winning percentage, the first determining tie breaker in the standings.

Bemidji State Softball finished a three-day road series where it took on Wayne State College, splitting the doubleheader 5-4 and 3-4, then fell to the top team in the NSIC, Augustana University, 2-11 and 0-5 and ended the road trip against St. Cloud State University falling 0-8 and 1-5. Sophomore Mariah Stevenson led the Beavers at the plate on the trip batting .357 with five hits and one RBI. On the mound junior Stella Dolan pitched two complete games and added nine strikeouts through 18.2 innings worked.

Stevenson leads Bemidji State in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.462) and on base percentage (.422). Stevenson is tied for second with Ashley Herold in RBIs with 20 two behind Molly Houts’ team-leading 22. As a team the Beavers rank 16th in the NSIC with a batting average of .247. BSU puts the ball in play in its at bats where it ranks fifth in strikeouts averaging 4.4 a game.

The pitching duo for the Beavers of Kyla Damerow (9-12) and Dolan (9-10) have been the main force on the rubber tallying 239.2 innings worked between the pair. Damerow has pitched 10 complete games, two being shutouts, recorded four saves and tallied 46 strikeouts. Dolan has completed nine games and has one complete game shutout, earned one save and totaled 82 strikeouts. BSU pitching ranks 12th in the NSIC with a 4.67 ERA and has walked the second fewest batters at 71.

Scouting Minnesota Crookston

The Golden Eagles are 16-27 overall and 4-14 in the NSIC, UMC went 1-3 on the weekend splitting the series against Wayne State 8-11 and 14-7 before falling to Augustana 1-10 and 0-18. Minnesota Crookston ranks 13th in the NSIC in batting average at .255 and 15th in the conference with a 5.93 ERA. Senior Alina Avalos leads the Golden Eagles with a .368 batting average and has recorded 43 hits, six doubles, one triple and five home runs in 40 games. Junior Thayda Houser (6-6) leads UMC with an earned run average of 4.92 and totaled 48 strikeouts. Nick Weinmeister is in his first season coaching the Golden Eagles.

Scouting Southwest Minnesota State

The Mustangs are 15-26 overall and 10-12 in the NSIC, SMSU started its weekend with a series sweep over St. Cloud State 2-1 in extra innings and 3-1 and then split their doubleheader with University of Minnesota, Duluth 1-9 and 3-2. SMSU ranks 14th in the NSIC in batting average at .254 and have an ERA of 3.73 ranking sixth in the conference. Junior Jillian Noel leads the Mustangs with a .301 batting average and has recorded 37 hits, eight doubles, one triple and three homeruns. Senior Shelby Bloemendaal (2-7) has a team low ERA of 3.53 through 79.1 innings pitched. Sophomore Karlie Miller (6-9) leads the team in strikeouts with 77. Bailey Bouman is in her fifth season coaching the Mustangs.

Scouting Sioux Falls

The Cougars are 20-23 overall and 11-13 in the NSIC, USF split its weekend games dropping both to St. Cloud State 3-6 and 1-7 then sweeping Wayne State 13-0 and 16-2. Sioux Falls ranks fourth with a .307 in the NSIC and ninth in the conference with a 4.35 ERA. Fifth year senior Lexie Swift lead the Cougars with a .375 batting average with 51 hits, 12 doubles, one triple, one home run and 27 RBI’s. Fifth year senior Kait Van Der Zwaag (13-7) has an ERA of 4.73 through 131.1 innings. Junior Hanna Cress (4-11) leads USF with 72 strikeouts.