The Fighting Hawks take on Idaho State in game six of the 2017 Big Sky Conference Softball Championship on Friday afternoon. First pitch against the Bengals is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT).
The loser of the contest will be eliminated from the tournament, while the winner will advance to play the winner between Sacramento State and Southern Utah for a 6 p.m. (CT) game on Friday.
Live stats for all the games at the tournament will be provided through the Big Sky Conference's website. All of the games will also be streamed free through WatchBigSky.com.
vs Southern Utah – Thursday, May 11
The Fighting Hawks and Southern Utah faced off in the first game of the tournament on Thursday morning. North Dakota took an early lead, but eventually fell to the Thunderbirds, 7-6, as Southern Utah scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off win.
North Dakota took an early lead after loading the bases on just the first four pitches of the game. Taylor Nadler drove in the first run of the day, as she hit a sac-fly to left center allowing Victoria Minor to score. An error on a fielder's choice then allowed Rachael Waynick and Kaylin VanDomelen to score, giving the Fighting Hawks the early 3-0 lead.
North Dakota kept Southern Utah's batters at bay for three innings, but in the bottom of the fourth the Thunderbirds capitalized on a myriad of defensive miscues. Southern Utah took the lead with four runs on three hits and three errors before the Fighting Hawks were able to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Dani Romero hit her sixth home run of the season to tie the game at 4-4. The Fighting Hawks then took back the lead in the top of the seventh, scoring two runs on four hits and one error. An error by the Thunderbirds allowed Mary Martin to reach first, but the throw went into the outfield and gave both VanDomelen and Waynick a free path home for a 6-4 lead.
However, Southern Utah rallied in the bottom of the seventh with two outs to score three runs on a triple hit to center field for the walk-off win.
Leading the Pack
Redshirt junior pitcher Kaylin VanDomelen leads the Big Sky in three major pitching categories; earned-run average (1.79), strikeouts (162), and opponent batting average (.217). She also ranks third in the conference in strikeouts per seven innings (6.9). Additionally, her 162 strikeouts ranks 48th in the nation.
On offense, VanDomelen is tied for seventh in the conference with eight home runs, while also ranking second in the Big Sky with 16 doubles.
After a record-breaking regular season, more firsts for the UND softball team continue to be made as redshirt junior pitcher Kaylin VanDomelen was named the Big Sky Conference's Pitcher of the Year and earned unanimous All-Big Sky First Team honors, while senior outfielder Rachael Waynick picked up All-Big Sky Second Team honors.
Waynick has had an incredible senior season, nearly doubling her career batting average this year. She has recorded 40 hits in 137 at-bats this season, and sits second on the team with a .292 batting average. Waynick posted a career-best five game hitting streak this season and leads the team with 13 multi-hit games, including three four-hit contests.
This is the first time UND has earned a conference Pitcher of the Year award in program history, and the first Pitcher/Player of the Year award since All-American Casie Hanson was named the Great West's Player of the Year in 2010. It is also the second All-Big Sky First Team honor for VanDomelen, as she garnered the program's first-ever award in 2016.
Best of the Week
Redshirt junior pitcher Kaylin VanDomelen earned her league-leading fifth Big Sky Pitcher of the Week honor on April 17. She became the Division I wins leader at UND, earning her 27th career victory in a 6-1 win over Sac State on Saturday, April 15. She finished the week with a 1.33 earned-run average, only giving up four earned runs over 21.0 innings of work. She struck out a total of 23 batters, including a career-best 11 in Friday's 4-1 win over Sac State. On offense, VanDomelen tied for the team lead with a .500 batting average, earning six hits in 12 at-bats. Half of her hits went yard as she also led UND with three home runs over the week. She scored three runs and batted in seven more.
The Fighting Hawks swept the Big Sky weekly awards for the second time this season as Lindsey Harford was named the Player of the Week with Kaylin VanDomelen earning her fourth Pitcher of the Week honor on April 10. Both Harford and VanDomelen tied for a team-leading .462 batting average with six hits in 13 at-bats over the week of April 3-9. VanDomelen had one of the best weeks of her career, as she did not concede a single run over 13.1 innings of work. She threw two shutouts and earned her fourth save of the year, as she helped UND go a perfect 4-0 with doubleheader sweeps of South Dakota State and Idaho State over the past week. Harford recorded a hit in all four games, including two hits in both the first game against SDSU and the second game against ISU.
For the third time in four weeks, Kaylin VanDomelen was named the Big Sky Conference's Pitcher of the week on March 8. VanDomelen threw UND's first no-hitter against a Division I opponent in a 4-0 win over UConn on March 5. She only conceded three earned runs over 19.0 innings for a weekend ERA of 1.11, while also striking out 24 batters. On offense, she also helped her own cause out on offense, as she hit a two-run homer to get on the board in the win against UConn. Overall, she batted .357 for the weekend with five hits in 14 at-bats, hitting two home runs, scoring three runs and recording 4 RBI's.
VanDomelen earned her second-straight Pitcher of the Week honor from the Big Sky for her performance at the Eastern Michigan Madeira Beach Spring Invitational, Feb. 17-19. Throwing a team-high 15.1 innings and two complete games, she only conceded two earned runs and nine hits, while also striking out 14 batters. On offense she recorded the team's second-best batting average with five hits in 15 at-bats (.333).
For their efforts at the 2017 Louisiana Tech Invitational, Feb. 10-12, both Taylor Nadler and VanDomelen earned player of the week honors from the Big Sky Conference. Nadler batted .385 over the weekend with a team-high five hits in 13 at bats, while also hitting two home runs, scoring four runs and batting in three more. VanDomelen was named the Pitcher of the Week after throwing 14 innings without giving up a single earned run. She struck out 13 batters over the weekend and recorded one win and her first career save.
Looking Back at 2016
The Fighting Hawks closed out the 2016 season with a 17-37 overall record and a 4-15 mark in Big Sky play. It marked the second season for head coach Jordan Stevens and also his second straight improving the team's overall winning percentage since arriving to Grand Forks.
The 2016 season also marked the most Big Sky wins UND has recorded in a single season, as the Fighting Hawks picked up two wins against Northern Colorado, and wins against Portland State and eventual league champions Weber State.
North Dakota returns its No. 2 and No. 3 leading hitters from last season in Mary Martin and Kaylin VanDomelen, respectively. Both recorded a .298 average last season, while VanDomelen led the team with 51 hits and 77 total bases.
Around the diamond, Martin behind home plate for her sophomore season. Autumn Cervantez enters her senior year and will return at second base for the Fighting Hawks. Cervantez hit .238 last season and started in 49 games for UND.
In the circle, UND returns its two starting pitchers in VanDomelen and Hannah Bergh. VanDomelen threw in 35 games last season and recorded a 14-20 record. She threw 20 complete games and recorded four shutouts, a 3.19 ERA and struck out a career high 151.
One of the Youngest
North Dakota has the third-youngest team in the nation, based on the number of underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores). UND has nine freshmen and seven sophomores, for a total of 16 underclassmen out of a total of 24 players on the 2017 roster.
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New Faces in the Lineup
With UND fielding such a young team, coach Stevens expects some new Fighting Hawks to start in the games at LA Tech. Taylor Nadler (transfer from Valparaiso), Angel Love (FR), and Lindsey Harford (FR) will see time in the outfield, while Lexi Mayhood (FR) and Dani Romero (FR) will see time in the infield.