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Top stories 2013 -- Season to remember for FHSU softball

By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

The 2013 season was one for the books for the Fort Hays State University softball team.

Even more so for decorated pitcher/hitter Maddie Holub, the team's lone senior in the most successful campaign in the Tigers' history.

But at the end of the season, Holub would have traded all the accolades had the Tigers been able to advance in the NCAA Tournament and earn the right to play for a Division II national championship.

But the Tigers did earn two victories in the NCAAs when they hosted the Central Regional at Tiger Stadium.

"This is the best experience I have ever had, being on these teams, being at this school," Holub said after the season came to a close with two losses to eventual champion and MIAA-member University of Central Oklahoma.

The Tigers finished 47-12 and won two games in the NCAA tourney for the first time in program history. The team set a school record for wins and finished with 16 more victories than the season prior.

The success had second-year coach Erin Kinberger, the MIAA Coach of the Year, excited about the future, despite the loss of Holub after a phenomenal year.

"Maddie and our upperclassmen have done such a great job of guiding these younger players to understand what it takes to get here," Kinberger said after the regional. "Clearly, they can see for themselves what it's going to take to get here and beyond for next year. So, I am very excited. I am very optimistic. I am always optimistic. I think that I will take any one of those kids, any day, anywhere we go."

Holub's dominance played a huge role. The Thomas More Prep-Marian graduate set numerous school records, but probably got more attention for her back-to-back perfect games and six no-hitters.

She was the first player to be named both the MIAA Pitcher and Hitter of the Year, and eventually was named All-American by Daktronics and the NFCA, the first Tiger player to do so.

Holub recorded the first perfect game by an MIAA Pitcher in almost a decade, one night after throwing 195 pitches and 17 strikeouts in a 12-inning win against Missouri Western. Then, Holub did it again in the Tigers' next outing.

"What I am going to take a lot from is the mental side," No. 2 pitcher Paxton Duran said of Holub after the season. "She is very confident and composed all the time and that is one thing that I really need to work on. That's what I took a lot from is how she presents herself when something is going amazing, when she is throwing a perfect game or people are hitting her, she is the exact same person all the time."

Holub threw at least 300 strikeouts for the second consecutive season. She finished 29-4 with a 1.03 earned-run average and hit .426.

She had 19 home runs, 10 doubles, three triples, 56 RBIs and 62 runs scored. She now holds career records at FHSU for wins (77), saves (7), winning percentage (.713), strikeouts (974), strikeouts per inning (1.34), runs scored (183), hits (255), home runs (46) and RBIs (160), among others.

While she won't be in the circle for the Tigers' in their encore attempt in 2014, Holub is on staff as a coach.

FHSU returns the rest of its team, including all-MIAA second-teamer Amanda Vaupel and honorable mention selections Tori Beltz, Courtey Dobson, Kellsi Olsen, Danie Brinkmann and Bianca Adame.