The UNO Maverick softball team captured its first ever MIAA Tournament Championship on Sunday morning with a 2-1 win over No. 7-seed Fort Hays State at the Blue Valley Recreation Complex.
The third-seeded Mavericks broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth and got 3.1 perfect innings of relief from senior pitcher Lindsey Slocum to close out the win and end the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record to capture their first conference title since winning the North Central Conference Championship in 2008.
UNO (45-9) had reached the MIAA Tournament Championship Game each of the past two seasons, but was eliminated by Emporia State both times.
The Mavs will now wait to find out what seed they will be for next weekend’s South Central Regional. That will be announced on Monday, as well as where the Mavs will be heading to. UNO entered the MIAA Tournament rated No. 5 in the South Central Region.
The Mavs struck first in the bottom of the first. Molly Feichtinger, the MIAA’s top hitter, led off with a double but was thrown out at the plate on a double by Sarah Elliott. However, Lauren Larson scored Elliott from third on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to make it 1-0. The Mavs had the bases loaded after a double by Katelyn Hinton and walk by Amber Lutmer, but Tiger left fielder Callie Wright made a terrific diving catch on a blooper by Ashley Lynch to end the UNO threat.
Senior Beth Haley was in control early on the mound. After allowing the first hitter of the game a single, Haley retired nine straight Tigers. But in the fourth inning, Fort Hays State (30-22) evened the game up at 1-1 on an RBI single by Kayla Rupa with two outs. With runners on the corners, UNO turned to Slocum, who came in and got the final out of the inning on a flyout to Hinton in center field.
The Mavs immediately answered in the bottom of the fourth, though. Alli Hukill attempted a sacrifice bunt that Emma Wright was thrown out on at second, however the Tigers tried to turn two, and the shortstop’s throw went over the first baseman’s head, allowing Hukill to reach second. After a Feichtinger bunt single put runners on the corners with one out, Elliott hit a fielder’s choice to the shortstop, allowing Hukill to score and give the Mavs a 2-1 lead.
Slocum (15-5) took it from there, finishing off a perfect three innings on the mound for the win. In the top of the seventh, Slocum got Britney Workman to fly out to left, then struck out the final two batters to win the championship for the Mavs and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd straight year.
Feichtinger went 4-for-4 on the day with a double, while Elliott and Larson recorded the only RBIs for UNO. Haley pitched 3.2 innings, allowing three hits, one walk and one run, while Slocum finished with four strikeouts against the 10 batters she faced.
Story courtesy of Omavs.com