NDSU can still get a first-round bye in Summit League play-offs
As the regular season ends this weekend, there is a lot at stake for the NDSU softball team. The Bison are currently 2.5 games behind Omaha for the number two spot in the league. With a sweep over the Mavs at Tharaldson Park this Friday and Saturday, the Bison would climb into second place heading into the Summit League Tournament and receive a first-round bye as the #2 seed.
Most recently, the Bison won their home-opening series last weekend over North Dakota as they took two out of three games from their rival. NDSU won the first two games by scores of 8-5 and 4-2 before dropping the finale on Sunday 4-3.
Overall, the Bison hit the ball well for the series batting nearly .300 and scoring five runs per game for the series. However, the Bison were very up and down for the series as they had a few stretches where they fell into a slump. From the last three innings in game one and the first four innings in game two, the Bison recorded just one run on three hits. Also, in game three, the Herd put together just three hits before the sixth inning.
However, the Bison offense is still hitting well overall. As a team, they are batting .288 in Summit League play, which is in the top three in the league. They’re also averaging just under five runs per game in league play with 15 home runs, 12 of which have come from Bella Dean and Carley Goetschius.
Now leading the Herd in batting average against teams in the Summit League is Emilee Buringa. After a disappointing start to the season, the Bison centerfielder is batting .358 with a 1.084 OPS, a league-leading 16 runs, and 5 stolen bases over the last 18 games. Her last five games have been even more impressive as she is hitting .500 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs.
NDSU’s Emilee Buringa in action for the Bison earlier this season. In league play, Buringa leads the Herd with a .358 batting average and the Summit League with 12 runs scored. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics
Dean, Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage, and Chloe Woldruff join Buringa and Goetschius in the .300 batting average department and all have been on a tear over the last couple of series. Dean is hitting .400 with 12 RBIs in her last six games, Aguilar-Beaucage is batting .375 with four extra-base hits in her last six, and Woldruff is hitting .412 over the last seven games as well.
This weekend, the Bison bats will have a great challenge ahead of them as they are set to encounter one of the best pitching staffs in the Summit League. The Mavericks currently hold the second spot in the Summit League in ERA (1.60) and first in strikeouts with 158.
Leading the way in the circle is two-time All-Summit League performer Kamryn Meyer. The senior from Wilton, Iowa has owned opposing lineups this season. She has struck out a remarkable 229 batters on the season and has a league ERA of 0.99. The reigning Summit League Peak Pitcher of the Week also has the second-lowest opposing batting average at .149.
Meyer has also dominated the Bison in her career. She is 4-1 in five games against the Herd with a stat line of 35 innings, 21 hits, 0.80 ERA, and 46 strikeouts. In her last start against Western Illinois, Meyer threw a complete game one-hit, 16 K shutout in a 7-0 win.
A consistent theme with the top teams in the Summit League has been good pitching. As the Bison currently sit in third place in the league, they are also third in most pitching categories, behind both South Dakota State and Omaha.
Through 18 league games, the Bison have a 2.12 ERA with 89 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .247. Doing the heavy lifting for the Bison has been seniors Paige Vargas and Lainey Lyle. Both boast sub-2.50 ERAs on the season and complement each other nicely as they use their change in speeds to their advantage.
Meanwhile, the Omaha bats have had an abundance of success themselves in their 17 Summit League games. In league play, the Mavs have four players batting over .300 and own a team batting average of .281, 30 stolen bases, and are scoring 5.2 runs per contest.
The top hitter for the Mavs this season has been second baseman, Lynsey Tucker. The 2022 All-league performer is batting .360 with 12 stolen bases at the top of the lineup. Right behind her in terms of production are Sydney Ross and Rachel Weber. Ross, the Mavs’ catcher, is leading the team in both home runs (6) and stolen bases (19). Weber, meanwhile, is hitting .319 on the season with four home runs.
Weber was also recently named the Summit League Peak Performer of the Week. Last weekend versus Western Illinois, Weber hit .727 (8-11) with 4 RBIs for the series.
Both teams will bring their terrific pitching staffs and lineups to Tharaldson Park to begin their three-game set on Friday with a doubleheader starting at noon. After the Bison seniors are honored on Saturday, the two teams will then finish the series at 11 a.m.
Admission for NDSU students is free with a valid student ID. Saturday’s game will be broadcast statewide on WDAY Xtra. Also, all three games will be on Bison 1660 AM/92.7 FM.