Holub hits walk-off; Tigers into title round
By CONOR NICHOLL
Son of Barb Nicholl
Senior Maddie Holub added another layer of history to her legendary Fort Hays State University softball career. Holub helped tie the game on a controversial call in the sixth inning and then ended the contest when she crushed a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
Holub, who also delivered a complete game, helped the Tigers collect a 5-2 victory against Minot State in an NCAA Division II tournament elimination game on Saturday evening at Tiger Stadium.
"I do swing at first pitches a lot and she threw it down the plate for me," Holub said. "I was being aggressive like I always am."
Fort Hays, the No. 1 seed in the Central Region, came back for the 11th time this season and improved to 41-11. Minot State, the fifth seed, went 41-11.
"You have to give credit to Maddie," Minot coach Bill Triplett said. "She is a good stick and a great pitcher, too, just a tough way to lose."
Holub's homer pushed FHSU into the championship at 1 p.m. Sunday against fourth-seeded University of Central Oklahoma. Fort Hays will have to beat the Bronchos twice to advance to the Super Regional.
"Can't ask for a better kid to get that done for us and to take us into the championship," Tiger coach Erin Kinberger said.
In the seventh, freshman Jenna Lang led off with a single. After a strikeout, junior Bianca Adame singled to right field. After a forceout, Holub hit the first pitch well over the left field fence, sending the 400 fans into a frenzy. The Tigers celebrated at home plate. Then, Minot coach Bill Triplett, in a great display of class, walked over to FHSU at the third base line and shared a quick message.
"They can win it all," Triplett said
FHSU tied the game in the sixth on bizarre circumstances. Freshman second baseman Courtney Dobson led off with a double to right-center. Then, Holub popped out to senior catcher Carmen Vargas.
However, Vargas was never re-entered on the umpire's scorecard. Triplett had to re-enter Vargas and senior pitcher Tiffany Friesen (13-6). However, only Vargas was re-entered on the umpire's scorecard.
"When I walked back to the dugout, I said, 'Re-enter them both,' " Triplett said. "(Friesen) and (Vargas), and he only re-entered (Friesen), but I didn't know that. My assistant coach then asked me, 'Did you re-enter?' I said, 'Yeah, I re-entered them both.' Tiffany actually asked me if I re-entered her and I said, 'Yeah, I re-entered you both.' But the umpire only re-entered (Friesen) on his card. That's where the discrepancy was."
Assistant coach Taylor Nelson keeps the Tiger book. All season, Nelson has watched and made sure other teams and FHSU re-enter their players.
"For the first time, we caught somebody," Kinberger said.
By rule, Holub had another at-bat. She grounded out, but Dobson advanced to third base.
Then, senior Danie Brinkmann, who had struggled on Friesen's change-up all day, saw another change-up and lined a game-tying RBI single into right-center field.
Before the game, Kinberger had to instill confidence in her team after the 11-3 run-rule loss to University of Central Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon.
Fort Hays tacked on the game's first run in the first when junior outfielder Bianca Adame, the leadoff hitter, beat out a bunt and then stole second, her Tiger record 40th of the year. Then Dobson flared a RBI single past second base.
Holub bounced back with a strong outing after the worst start, statistically, against UCO.
Holub retired the first six batters and 10 of the first 11. In the fourth inning, she walked junior Jen Dixon, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference leader in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Then, senior pitcher Tiffany Friesen hit a full count pitch over the left field fence for a 2-1 Beaver lead. Holub worked around two walks in the fifth inning, but Brinkmann ended the threat when he made a fully outstretched, diving catch on a foul ball near the Tiger dugout. Holub (29-3) struck out 12 batters, the 21st time this season she recorded double-digit strikeouts.