Three programs snag conference titles, baseball finishes fourth

Hastings College Athletics acquired this past weekend three more Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championships. Both men’s and women’s tennis, as well as the softball team, each won their respective tournaments.
Overall, the spring season was a success for Bronco athletics. Even though the Bronco baseball team did not win a championship, they did achieve a great amount of success compared to recent seasons.
The Bronco baseball team had a winning record for the first time since the 2015 season. They finished 27-24 and 15-13 in conference, which was good for a fourth-place finish in the GPAC. Junior Brandon Utrup and senior Reed Stone led HC in the field and at the plate, with Utrup hitting for a .352 average and Stone winning a GPAC Gold Glove. Stone also received second team All-Conference honors amassing 31 runs batted in and fielded .913 in 51 games. Senior Andrew Kuta earned GPAC Pitcher of the Year, finishing with a 5-1 record while carrying a 1.48 ERA in conference. The Broncos were knocked out in the GPAC tournament by Mount Marty, ending their season.
“As a whole, I thought the season was a step in the right direction. As a team, we were able to improve all season and also were able to compete at a high level. We had strong pitching backed by a good defensive,” Utrup said. “We just needed to get that one hit or make that one pitch to go further into the tournament. There’s always room for improvement, and we hope to take what we learned into next year.”
The tennis teams competed Friday and Saturday May 5–6 in Fremont, Nebraska and earned a sweep of the tournament championships. Both the men and women finished their regular season undefeated in conference play. However, the men lost one match during the GPAC tournament, tallying a final record of 10-1 to cap off their season. On the women’s side, they won the tournament title with a perfect 10-0 record. Both teams will travel to Mobile, Alabama for the NAIA Tennis National Championship where the women will play Louisiana State University-Alexandria and the men will face Cardinal Stritch (Wisconsin). The opening round begins Tuesday, May 16.
“It says a lot about the culture, and our coach, Comron Yazdgerdi, what effort he puts forth,” senior captain Mark Gueswell said. “It shows how much love we have for each other, how much desire we have to win and put our best foot forward.”
The softball team came back to win the GPAC championship tournament and earned themselves a national tournament bid Monday, May 8 in Sioux City, Iowa. The Broncos ended up needing all three games of a triple-header to win the championship series over Morningside College 2-1. HC came back from an 8-1 loss in game one after the Mustangs scored eight runs in the sixth inning off of three Bronco errors. The Broncos responded by winning the next two games 5-2 and 5-4, respectively. The Broncos’ season was streaky as they relied on a young but consistent offense, which was led by freshman Lexie Linderman, with a .410 average, 72 runs batted in and 16 homers in 54 games.
The softball team also rewrote the record books, breaking records for home runs in a career by junior Corrin Ziepke, games played in a career by senior Chloe Boeka and a few others. Seven players earned First Team All-Conference honors including freshman Taylor Asche, senior Cara Williams, Boeka, Linderman and Ziepke. Freshman Sarah Barger was the lone Bronco on second team with sophomore Josie Bumgardner earning Honorable Mention.
The Broncos will face off in the opening round of the NAIA Softball National Championship against Davenport University (Michigan) in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) bracket. Play begins on Monday, May 15.

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