Miami softball season ends with NCAA tournament losses


Photo by Miami University

Miami softball team lines up for its game against Northwestern in the NCAA regionals.

The Miami softball team was knocked out of the NCAA tournament this past weekend, losing to Notre Dame, 3-2, and to Northwestern 7-1, in the regional round in Lexington, Kentucky.  

Still, those losses don’t take away the team’s huge successes in the regular season, which saw them win a school-record 46 games.

While some teams may play a soft non-conference schedule, Miami didn’t shy away from top competition. Before Mid-American Conference (MAC) play, the team picked up victories against Georgia Tech, Louisville, and Tennessee, who earned the ninth overall seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Miami was nearly unbeatable in their conference schedule, going 36-2 in the MAC. After the season, the RedHawks cleaned up the conference’s postseason awards. First-year head coach Kirin Kumar won the conference’s Coach of the Year award, senior pitcher Courtney Vierstra won MAC Pitcher of the Year and freshman Karli Spaid earned MAC Freshman Player of the Year.

The team also had players on the All-Conference team. Vierstra, Spaid, junior Allie Cummins, and freshman Holly Blaska made first-team All-MAC, while senior Mackenzie Moore and juniors Brianna Pratt, Adriana Barlow, and Riley Coyne were named to the second-team.

Vierstra was the team’s best player this year, earning 26 wins in 36 appearances and earning a 1.77 era, the best in the MAC. Though Vierstra doesn’t throw a lot of off-speed pitches, her rising fastball was often enough to strike hitters out.

However, the team’s offense is what separated them from the rest of the conference. The team was top 10 in the NCAA in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs per game, and home runs, and was first in the nation with 116 total doubles.

Despite its success at the plate, the team couldn’t get the bats going in the NCAA regionals. After a season full of home runs and doubles, Miami managed to hit just two extra-base hits during the whole regional. Both of these were by Cummins, who hit a home run and a double in the team’s 7-1 loss to Northwestern.

Key players such as Spaid, Cummins, Blaska, and Barlow will be back in the lineup for the RedHawks next season. Vierstra, who is a senior, will use her extra year of eligibility granted to all NCAA athletes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.