Springfield, Ill.~ In their best season in school history, the Bulldogs came up just shy of knocking out second-seeded Columbia College (Mo.) in the elimination game of the American Midwest Conference (AMC) Tournament on Saturday afternoon. BenU Springfield finishes the season 27-27 (.500), earning historic program moments along the way.
Miranda Langen got the Bulldog bats started and gained the early lead, sending her third home run of the season over the center field fence on a 1-0 count. The Bulldogs added to the hurt a little more in the top of the sixth on a squeeze play to score the run. Madeline Jiardina pinch-hit singled down the right field line for Nicole Ramirez; Ramirez re-entered to run. A HBP and passed ball moved Ramirez to third. Sarah Worster layed down a perfect sac-bunt to score Ramirez to go up 2-0 on the Cougars. CC made things interesting, sending a two-shot in bottom six to tie things up and it would stay that way through the eighth. Columbia's Taylor Atwood was able to poke one to shallow right field to score the game winner and end the Bulldog season 3-2.
Katie Stapleton was impressive from the circle, despite the outcome, tossing seven and two-thirds innings with three runs on seven hits and eight batters struck out. Jiardina, Langen, and Gabby Oldani all recorded hits in the loss.
This 2013-14 season for the Bulldogs has been filled with many impressive milestones. Since the transition to a four-year, NAIA institution in 2010-11, this was the first recorded winning regular season (26-25) before heading into conference play. The final overall record (27-27) will go down as the best record in softball history. The trip to the quarterfinal round of the AMC Tournament was the program's first and the 6-3 victory was the team's first conference tournament W as well. Head coach Kerry Crum couldn't be happier with the way his team performed, starting out 1-8 to a spot in the AMC Tournament was no easy feat. With the loss of only four current Bulldog student-athletes, the addition of nine new faces and the return of injured players (Thacker, Buhnerkemper, Hembrough) will only increase the capabilities for next season.