Alma, Mich. - The #14 Alma College softball team put yet another historic season in the books this year after earning their rights in to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th year under head coach Denny Griffin.
The Scots had shoes to fill after ending their tour last year at the NCAA Division III Softball Championships. This year the Scots run came to an end at the Alma Regional Tournament but not before they reached many milestones, including a tie for the fifth most team wins in program history. Alma concluded the season with a 33-10 mark and an MIAA record of 14-2.
Alma kicks off their season every year at the Spring Games at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, this year amassing a 7-3 record while down there. The Scots had a quick turn around when they returned home and traveled to Columbus, Georgia for the NFCA Leadoff Classic where they took first in the Silver Bracket of the tournament.
The months of March and April were promising for the Scots, where they went on a 10-game win streak, which included Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) play. Alma swept Albion, Hope and Calvin before splitting with Saint Mary's - their loss coming in a 10 inning duel.
Alma found themselves on yet another win streak ultimately winning their next nine of 10 games to head on in to the MIAA Tournament. Alma hosted the MIAA Tournament after becoming co-MIAA regular season champions with a 14-2 record. Alma split with Trine, who was also 14-2 but the Scots won the final tiebreaker to host.
#1 Alma faced #4 Saint Mary's first in the tournament defeating them in a 2-1 walk-off fashion in the bottom of the eighth on account of a solo home run from sophomore Mary Brooks (Portland, Mich./Portland). Alma remained in the winner's bracket and faced Hope College later that day, defeating them 2-1.
In the final day of the double-elimination tournament Alma faced Trine twice, falling to them 3-1 before defeating the Thunder 1-0 in the championship game. The Scots were the MIAA Tournament Champions for the first time since 2012, automatically earning a bid in to the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Katie McClure (Manchester, Mich./Manchester) and junior Morgan Stratton (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc) both received All-MIAA honors. McClure was placed on Second Team All-MIAA while Stratton garnered First Team All-MIAA honors and was was awarded the Pitcher of the Year award.
Alma, who was voted #1 in the Central Region and had an MIAA Tournament Championship under their belt, earned the right to host one of the 16 Regional Tournament sites. In the Scots first game they suffered a 2-1 setback in a 10-inning battle to Benedictine. Alma fought their way through the bracket downing Wittenberg College 9-2 after two home runs from McClure for six of Alma's runs. The Scots season came to a close later that day when they fell to Benedictine, who went on to win the Alma Regional.
During the tournament, 10 players were also named to the NCAA Alma Regional All-Tournament Team. Stratton and McClure both earned this accomplishment for their individual performances during their three games of the tournament.
Individual accolades were also reached all across the board for the Scots in several different categories. Throughout the regular season three separate Scots were named a Player of the Week at one point. Stratton received her first player of the week recognition back on April 4, then again on May 3, for her pitching performances those two weeks. McClure and Brooks both also garnered Player of the Week honors after their performances at the MIAA Tournament.
After the conclusion of the season, Stratton and McClure each earned All-Central Region honors. Stratton garnered first team accolades, for the second time in her career while McClure clinched the third team All-Central Region.
The Scots also had two players named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team for their accomplishments in both the classroom and on the field. Senior Sarah Collier (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) and senior Kassidi Adams (Montrose, Mich./Montrose) both received this honor while Collier held a 3.67 grade point average and Adams a 3.93.
Lastly, Stratton was named a second-team All-American by the Natinoal Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Stratton concluded her season with the second lowest earned run average of 0.78 in all of Division III. She was also ranked third in Division III in number of saves with six. Stratton led the MIAA in every pitching category this season. She finished with the lowest ERA (0.78), the most wins (18), the most saves (6) and the highest number of strikeouts (190). After two seasons with the Scots, Stratton is fourth all-time in career strikeouts with a total of 393.
Collier and freshman McKenzie Creed (Edwardsburg, Mich./Edwardsburg) helped lead the hitting squad as they both had the highest RBIs at 31. Brooks was close behind with 27 RBIs and she led the team with five home runs.
Alma finalized their season 33-10 overall and 14-2 in the MIAA conference. Alma will lose three influential seniors to their program - Kayla Merice (Dorr, Mich./Wayland), Collier and Adams. But with adjustment and a solid group of experience players returning the Scots will work to find themselves in another winning season.