Central Regional tournament teams at a glance
No. 1 Fort Hays State University Tigers (45-10)
Finished second in the MIAA regular season and then won the conference tournament. This marks the second NCAA appearance in school history, first since 2003. The Tigers have never won a NCAA tournament game. Maddie Holub, the lone senior, is batting .436 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs. Holub is 27-2 with a 0.77 ERA. Sophomore center fielder Amanda Vaupel carries a .363 average. Junior outfielder Bianca Adame is batting .322 with 36 steals. Fort Hays ranks ninth nationally and first in the region in fielding percentage (.972). FHSU already has set a school record for wins, eclipsing the 35-20 record from 2003. The Tigers are 76-29 under second-year coach Erin Kinberger.
No. 8 Emporia State University Hornets (38-18)
The Hornets finished as MIAA conference tournament runner-ups to Fort Hays. Hornets have reached 10 straight NCAA tournaments. Ace Karley Schmelzer has thrown six no-hitters, including two this year. Schmelzer has a 1.35 earned-run average in nine NCAA tournament appearances. Schmelzer leads the nation in wins, while Holub ranks second. Julie LeMaire is in her second year at ESU after she coached Fort Hays for three seasons. LeMaire is 80-29 with the Hornets.
No. 4 University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos (42-11)
This marks the seventh NCAA appearance since 2002 for UCO, which advanced to the World Series in 2006 and last year. The program was fifth in 2006 and tied for third last year. The Bronchos, ranked No. 19 nationally, went 2-2 in the MIAA tournament last weekend after it won the regular season championship. Genny Stidham is 466-289-2 in 16 years for UCO. The Bronchos are 16-14 in NCAA tournament play. Junior left-hander Kalynn Shrock went 25-6 with a 1.88 ERA. Three players collected all-MIAA first team honors, senior designated player Kacie Edwards, junior third basemana Nicole Workman and freshman utility player Ally Dziadula. Edwards leads the team with a .411 average.
No. 5 Minot State (N.D.) Beavers (40-9)
Minot State is not ranked in the top 25. The Beavers finished second overall in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament. This is Minot State's first year of being eligible at the Division II level after transitioning from the NAIA ranks. Junior outfielder/pitcher Jen Dixon finished with a .469 batting average, best in the region, with 12 homers and 49 RBIs. She led the NSIC in multiple categories and earned the conference Gold Glove in left field. Senior Mandy Greenberg is the ace with a 24-4 record, 1.12 ERA and NSIC Pitcher of the Year. Bill Triplett is 194-77 in six seasons, including three straight 30-win seasons.