Midland Softball blanked by Science & Arts in NAIA Opening Round to end year

Midland Softball blanked by Science & Arts in NAIA Opening Round to end year
May 16th, 2024 | midlandathletics.com

CHICKASHA, Okla. – Another season has come to a close as Midland University dropped a tough decision to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma on the final day of the NAIA Softball Opening Round. In a matchup of the top two seeds, the second-seeded Warriors could not find the spark they needed to overtake the Drovers on their home field.

A double from Emily Prai, followed by a walk of Reese Floro, looked to get Midland on the scoreboard early. USAO’s defense settled in and got a pair of pop-ups and a strikeout to avoid the big inning.

Offensively, the Drovers picked up a pair of hits during their first at-bat. Their second batter of the game reached on a single but was thrown out by Amanda Schmaderer and Matti Reiling as she attempted to steal second. A follow-up double was left stranded as the teams were scoreless through the 1st inning of play.

Reiling started the Midland 2nd with a walk but once again the USAO defense battled back with three-straight outs. In the bottom of the inning, the Drovers picked up a pair of walks with one out. A flyball advanced the runners into scoring position with two outs. An uncharacteristic error by the Warriors allowed both runners to score. Midland got out of the inning two batters later with a redemption flyball hit to Ariyana Crafton in left field.

USAO added to its lead in the 3rd after sitting down the top of the Midland lineup in the top of the inning. The Drovers worked three straight one-out hits, the final two being doubles, to go up 4-0. That resulted in a pitching change for the Warriors as Paeton Coler relieved starter Aliyah Rincon in the circle.

The rally continued for the home team as they scored three unearned runs to take a commanding 7-0 lead.

In the 4th, a two-out single was all the Warriors could muster as the Drovers’ moved closer to their return trip to the NAIA World Series. In the bottom of the inning, they scored via a sacrifice fly to put the game on the verge of an early ending.

Needing to score a run to keep the game going, Midland was retired in order, ending the game and its season.

Rincon, the Warriors’ all-time leader in nearly every pitching category, went 2.1 innings with five hits and two walks while allowing two earned runs. Coler went the final 1.2 innings with three hits allowed with one earned run. Midland was saddled with three errors, translating to five unearned runs for USAO.

Statistical Standouts

Midland wraps up the season with a 44-12 record following its sixth straight trip to the NAIA National Tournament. They’ll say goodbye to one of the winningest senior classes in program history. The Class of 2024 finishes with 163 wins over the past four seasons with two regular season and two postseason conference titles. The Warriors will look to their returner and the next group of newcomers to carry on the tradition of championship-level softball.


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