Bison softball heads to Western Illinois following sweep of Kansas City

The Herd looks to continue hot streak

The Bison softball team is coming off yet again another dominant weekend, overwhelmingly sweeping the Kansas City Roos in a three-game series. For the series, North Dakota State outscored Kansas City 25-2 and outhit the Roos 32-14 along with hitting five home runs. Paige Vargas also picked up a pair of wins to improve to 10-5 on the season and Lainey Lyle picked up the other win in game two. The 41st Summit League sweep for the Bison keeps them on their recent tear as they have emerged victorious in 13 of their last 15 games heading to Western Illinois this weekend.

Many Bison players have picked things up both in the hitting and pitching departments. As a team, the Herd has a batting average of .270 and has clubbed 60 extra-base hits thus far.

Leading the way in the 2nd spot of the batting order is third baseman Carley Goetschius. For the second week in a row, Goetschius was named TicketSmarter Summit League Peak Player of the Week. It is the fifth straight week a Bison player has received the award.

During the series at Kansas City, Goetschius went 8-11 (.727) at the plate, blasted two home runs, scored six runs, and collected eight RBIs. For the season, the fifth-year senior from Sioux Falls, S.D. is batting a staggering .436 and has an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of 1.156 through 30 games. She also leads the team in runs (26), and doubles (11), and is tied for the team lead in home runs with four while striking out just four times in 94 at-bats. That is the fewest of anyone on the team with more than 30 at-bats.

Offensively, the entire team has been on a hot streak, averaging 6.2 runs per game in their last 15 contests. One of the players who has recently had a solid stretch of games is junior outfielder Emilee Buringa. Last year’s all-league performer started off a bit slow, batting just .194 through the first 22 games. However, since March 12 she has turned it around, hitting .417 in her last eight games including six RBIs and a home run.

NDSU outfielder Emilee Buringa connects on a pitch last season at Tharaldson Park. Buringa, one of NDSU’s hottest hitters, is hitting .417 in her last eight games including six RBIs and a home run.

Photo Courtesy | Zach Lucy – NDSU Athletics

Pitching-wise, Paige Vargas, Lainey Lyle and others have been dominant as of late. In the last 15 games, the Bison pitching staff has allowed just 1.6 runs per game and has not allowed more than two runs in a game in the last 11 contests. Vargas specifically, has not allowed an earned run in her last 26.2 innings pitched with 7.2 of those innings coming last weekend in Kansas City. For the season, Vargas possesses an ERA of 1.59 and a WHIP of 0.88 in 92.1 innings.

Lyle has also seen a vast improvement as the season has progressed. In her last 37.2 innings, the senior from Middleton, Idaho has an ERA of just 1.86 and has shrunk her season ERA to 3.71 in 54.2 innings. Along with Piper Reed taking on larger duties, the Bison pitching staff has been an absolute powerhouse.

This weekend, the Bison will take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks in Macomb, Ill. Similar to Kansas City, Western Illinois has struggled so far this season as they’re just 6-19 on the season and have lost 13 consecutive games. The Leathernecks have also scored three runs just one time in those games. However, the Leathernecks do have some impact players such as pitchers Emily Price, Savannah Rodriguez, and third baseman Bella Alvarez.

Price, the team’s ace, leads the team with a 2.56 ERA over the course of 65.2 innings this season. Rodriguez, who is hitting .276 with four home runs this season, is also second on the team with 63.2 innings pitched. As for Alvarez, the junior from Santa Clarita, Calif. leads the team in batting average (.324), runs (9), and doubles (5), and has hit three home runs and driven in nine runs.

The Bison dominated the Leathernecks last season as they easily swept them in three games and outscored them 29-2 in the series. However, the last time the Bison were in Macomb, they managed a mere split in the four-game series. In that series, both Lyle and Vargas picked up losses while Alvarez and Rodriguez homered in the series finale.

The Bison and Leathernecks are slated for action twice on Saturday with start times at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. The league foes will then conclude the series on a Sunday starting at 11 a.m.

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