After University of Jamestown softball gutted out one of two victories against Midland University's Jaylee Hinrichs-a 2018 NAIA All-American second team pitcher-on Friday, it seemed like the worst was out of the way.
As it turned out, Jamestown wasn't quite yet out of the woods.
Morningside College's Hallie Misiaszek held the Jimmies to eight runs and 16 hits during the best-of-three GPAC tournament finals on Saturday, as the Mustangs took two of three by scores of 13-0 (5 innings), 5-7 and 3-1 to claim the conference championship at Jensen Softball Complex in Sioux City, Iowa.
Second-seeded Morningside (30-9) will join regular-season conference champion Midland University (31-10) in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round on May 13-15 at various sites around the country. Meanwhile, the Jimmies will await their fate in the top-40 field.
"We're really proud of the way we battled," said Jamestown coach Kevin Gall. "We came together as a team and did the best we could. We had our chances-they were tired, we were tired-but we couldn't outlast them."
The Jimmies saw the opposite type of pitcher Saturday, as Misiaszek threw a ton of drop balls, while Hinrichs relied on her riseball during Friday's battle. Misiaszek threw a one-hit shutout during the opening game as Morningside used a nine-run second frame to win 13-0 in five.
"She basically threw a lot of drop balls and we kept pounding it in the ground," Gall explained. "She threw it pretty consistently. We chased it a few times and I thought we were better than last week. The umpire's strike zone was pretty tight and she just kept it coming. You have to tip your visor to her."
Jamestown was down to its final three outs, trailing 5-2 in game 2, but Miriah Yoder reached first base on a dropped third strike, which ignited a five-run inning.
"It all started off with a strikeout. Yoder struck out, she was running to first, a collision happened and that's what started it off," Gall said. "Nine batters later, we scored five runs. We had a couple bloop hits and they mixed an error in there. It was the perfect timing to go in there and steal a win."
Morningside broke a 1-all contest in the fifth as Ellie Cropley doubled home a run and Lexie Stolen used an RBI sacrifice fly for some insurance. Jamestown left 11 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth, during the rubber match.
The Jimmies had the tying run at the plate in the seventh with zero outs after a Meghan Ramage single, but couldn't complete the comeback a second time.
"We came really close and I'm real proud of how close we came," Gall said. "It was a memorable day, unfortunately it wasn't because we won, but it was a battle in the second and third game."
The Jimmies received votes during the preseason and in first two NAIA top 25 coaches' polls, but officially haven't received votes since April 9.
"The last time I looked in the poll we weren't receiving votes, so there's not much of a chance to get in," Gall said. "When you finish fifth in the GPAC, you don't expect to get in."
Jamestown will lose Yoder, Allie McCain, Katlyn Buethner, Kelly Halverson and Meghan Ramage to graduation if it's the Jimmies' last game. The seniors combined to hit .296 (345-for-1,164), with 50 doubles, 9 home runs, 194 RBIs and 363 games played.
(RV) Morningside (Iowa) College 13, University of Jamestown 0 (5 innings)
UJ 000 00 -- 0 1 3
MC 091 30 -- 13 8 1
W--Hallie Misiaszek. L--Katie Merchant.
UJ highlights: Mikayla Frost 1-2; Katie Merchant 1.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 R, 4 H, BB, 1 K; Samm Hamilton 2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 6 BB, K.
University of Jamestown 7, (RV) Morningside (Iowa) College 5
UJ 000 200 5 -- 7 10 2
MC 013 100 0 -- 5 10 4
W--Katie Merchant. L--Hallie Misiaszek.
UJ highlights: Katie Reisdorfer 3-4, RBI; Morgan Geiszler 2-4, 3 RBI, R; Allie McCain 1-4, RBI, R; Meghan Ramage 1-4, RBI, 2 R; Miriah Yoder 1-3, R; Mariah Martinez 1-3, R; Mariah Wick 1-3, R.
(RV) Morningside (Iowa) College 3, University of Jamestown 1
UJ 000 010 0 -- 1 5 1
MC 100 020 X -- 3 7 3
W--Hallie Misiaszek. L--Katie Merchant.
UJ highlights: Mikayla Frost 1-3, R; Meghan Ramage 1-4; Sydney Prussia 1-4, RBI; Morgan Geiszler 1-4; Katie Reisfdorfer 1-4; Katie Merchant 6 IP, 2 ER, 3 R, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K.
Records: University of Jamestown 31-20. Morningside (Iowa) College 30-9.