BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- April has arrived, which means the 2019 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) softball season is in full swing. Conference play began over the weekend and MIAC teams are ready to battle each other - and the elements - over the next month in preparation for the 2019 MIAC Playoffs in May.
St. Thomas is ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest NFCA Top 25 Poll, with Saint Benedict coming in at No. 21.
Saint Benedict outfielder Kate Deming (Bloomington, Minn. | Jefferson) has six triples so far in 2019, the fourth-most in all of Division III. Augsburg's Anesia King (Cambridge, Minn. | Cambridge-Isanti) is tied for fifth in the country with five triples on the year.
St. Olaf junior Julie Graf (Sammamish, Wash. | Eastlake) leads the nation in strikeouts per seven innings at an average of 13.6. She also ranks second in Division III in total Ks with 148, while Augsburg's Sam Anderson (Coon Rapids, Minn.) is seventh with 98, and Concordia's Megan Gavin (Cold Spring, Minn. | ROCORI) is tied for ninth with 94.
St. Thomas infielder Chase Shortly (Forest Lake, Minn.) is tied for fourth in the country with an average of 1.75 runs batted in per game this season. Bethel's Jamie Axelberg (Monticello, Minn.) ranks 10th with an average of 1.67.
AROUND THE MIAC
Augsburg pitcher Sam Anderson (Coon Rapids, Minn.) had a brilliant week in the pitching circle, going 3-0 in four appearances - three of which were complete games - with two shutout wins and 34 strikeouts against just five walks and only two earned runs. Anderson struck out 12 batters in a 5-0 win against St. Scholastica last Tuesday to become the ninth pitcher in MIAC history to reach the 500-strikeout plateau. She has thrown a program-record 525 strikeouts in her Auggie career.
Bethel set a program record with 12 consecutive victories before falling to St. Thomas on Sunday. Jamie Axelberg (Monticello, Minn.) belted her MIAC-leading sixth home run of the year in the Royals' sweep of Northwestern last Tuesday. Axelberg was one of three Royals to hit a home run in the two-game series.
Carleton infielder Maris Daleo (Stillman Valley, Ill.) hit safely in all seven of the Knights' games last week to extend her hit streak to 14. Daleo scored 10 runs from her leadoff spot in helping Carleton to a 5-2 week, including a victory over No. 17 UW-Whitewater, a game in which she went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Daleo has hit safely in 18 of 19 games this year and leads all MIAC players with 16 stolen bases on the season.
Concordia pitcher Megan Gavin (Cold Spring, Minn. | ROCORI) has 89 strikeouts in 70 innings this season. She now has 164 Ks in her first two seasons in maroon and gold and has maintained a 1.90 ERA in her 14 games pitched this year.
Gustavus infielder Aly Freeman (Omaha, Neb. | Marian) helped guide the Gusties to a pair of wins over the weekend. Freeman hit a two-run home run when the team was down 5-4 against Saint Mary's to take the lead for good over the Cardinals on Saturday. On Sunday, Freeman hit another two-run home run, this time in the bottom of the first, to give Gustavus a 2-1 lead. Freeman was 6-for-13 on the weekend with five RBI.
Sophomore infielder Megan Rubbelke (North St. Paul, Minn.) hit a first-inning home run and it proved to be all the offense Hamline needed in a 1-0 victory over Macalester in the MIAC opener last weekend. Rubbelke went 2-for-2 with a walk in the opening game of the series.
Macalester's Audrey Meade (Cedar Hills, Utah) batted .455 with a double, a homer, and five RBI over four games last week. Meade hit a long, two-run home run to left and added a two-run double in an 8-7 loss in extra inning to Crown on Wednesday. In a 4-3 victory over Hamline on Sunday, Meade went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base while delivering a single in the bottom of the seventh that helped to load the bases in the walk-off win.
Saint Benedict rookie Mo Burns (Minneapolis, Minn. | Providence Academy) had a huge day at the plate to lift CSB over rival St. Kate's on Sunday. Burns finished the MIAC opener by going 5-for-5 with four singles and a home run. She had a pair of two-run singles to help CSB take the lead in the fourth and fifth innings, and ended the game early with a three-run homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the sixth. Burns finished the day with seven RBI, which is tied for fifth-most in a D-III game this season, while her five hits in one game are tied for first in the nation.
St. Kate's sophomore pitcher Kathryn Proper (St. Paul, Minn. | Como Park) tallied 13 strikeouts against UW-Stout and added 10 more Ks against the nationally-ranked UW-Eau Claire last week. Proper went 2-2 with 32 total strikeouts in five appearances (three starts) last week.
Amy Kulaga (Riverside, Ill.) and Erin Sullivan (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.) each recorded their first collegiate three-hit games in Saint Mary's loss to UW-La Crosse last Thursday. Kulaga finished the game 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Sullivan was 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
St. Olaf outfielder Ally Bode (Moose Lake, Minn.) recorded a slash line of .357/.400/.714 with two doubles, a home run, three RBI, six runs, and two stolen bases in six games for St. Olaf last week. The sophomore provided the go-ahead double to kickstart a six-run fourth inning for the Oles in a 9-1 win at Saint Mary's on Sunday and hit her first career home run later in the game. Bode had at least one hit and scored at least one run in four of the six games, while also recording a pair of outfield assists on double plays from her spot in centerfield.
St. Thomas pitcher Kierstin Anderson-Glass (Inver Grove Heights, Minn. | Visitation) struck out eight and allowed one earned run in a six-inning, complete-game win over Bethel on Sunday. Anderson-Glass has made nine starts this season, earning the win in six of those appearances with complete games in seven and shutouts in three. She leads all MIAC pitchers with a 0.98 ERA on the year.