After setting a school record of 31 wins in 2011, the Baker University softball team still felt like it had some unfinished business.
Baker set a goal at the beginning of this season to win a conference championship.
Although the Wildcats fell short of their goal with a third-place finish in regular season play, BU made it to the HAAC tournament double elimination rounds with a chance to qualify for the NAIA tournament.
Baker was eliminated by Evangel University last season before the double elimination rounds, and with Friday’s first game slated against the Crusaders, the Wildcats had revenge on their minds.
“I would say that we were pretty motivated,” senior Brooke Allen said. “Last year kind of didn’t sit well with us.”
The Wildcats defeated the Crusaders 2-0 behind a three-hit complete game shutout from sophomore Maggie Holmberg.
“Maggie brought her A-game,” head coach Matt Windle said. “She was definitely ready to play.”
Holmberg pitched with the lead for the entire game after BU scored both of its runs in the first inning.
“(Pitching with the lead) takes so much pressure off of the pitcher just because you know that you have a little bit of leeway,” Holmberg said.
Baker turned around to play Central Methodist University in its second game of the day Friday with sophomore Erin Greenwood getting the start.
Greenwood and the Wildcats got on the scoreboard first against the Eagles with a RBI from junior Summer Kelley, but CMU’s Rebecca Lipsey hit what would end up being a game-winning two-RBI double to defeat BU.
The loss would set up a rematch against Evangel Saturday for who would go on to play Central Methodist in the championship game.
The game was almost a carbon copy of Friday’s matchup with Holmberg throwing a two-hit complete game shutout to punch the Wildcat’s ticket to the championship game. BU again scored two runs in the first inning with sophomore Kayla Morse’s two-RBI double for the only two runs of the game.
Despite out-hitting the Eagles six to five in the championship game, CMU’s Aubrey Utley got herself out of jams to earn her 25th win of the season. Central Methodist won 4-1 to win the HAAC tournament.
“(Utley) was probably the toughest pitcher we had ever faced this without a doubt,” Allen said.
While the ‘Cats fell just short of their goal, Allen believes the success the team achieved this season highlights the strides the program has made during her time at Baker.
“My freshman year, if you would have told me that I would make it to the conference championship my senior, I probably wouldn’t have believed you ... this has probably been the funnest team I have ever played on,” Allen said.
Allen was named to the All-HAAC First Team along with Kelley, Greenwood and Holmberg and won a Gold Glove for her defense at second base.
BU finished the season with an overall record of 25-19.