SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Augustana baseball team claimed its second straight NSIC regular season championship and will once again be the top seed heading into the conference tournament this week.
The Vikings posted a 28-7 record against Northern Sun competition. They are averaging more than 8 runs a game in conference play and hitting more than 30 points higher than they did in the non-conference.
“We knew our lineup was going to be young, so we had some growing pains there, but we’ve improved a lot,” Augustana junior Tate Meiners said.
“Pitching carried us hard through the beginning of the year.” Augustana junior Drey Dirksen said. “And then our hitters, we kind of figured it out towards the end and now we’re just kind of working well both of us. So I think that, just the combination of pitching and hitting, really working together, getting us really coming together at the end of the year when we need it.”
Augie finished one game ahead of Minnesota State in the standings, thanks in large part to winning the last seven games of the regular season.
“Any time you have a newer, younger group of guys, they need to get some confidence going.” Augustana head coach Tim Huber said. “When you win games, that’s where the confidence builds. We’ve been far from perfect. They know that.”
“Momentum is everything in baseball,” Dirksen said. “So going into the tournament on that winning streak, it’s big. Confidence is key.”
During this winning streak, the Vikings have outscored their opponents by 42 runs, which demonstrates that they are clicking both in the batter’s box and on the mound.
“Some really good old pitching, mixed with some young bats, it’s just worked out pretty well,” Meiners said. “We had a few losses early on we shouldn’t have had, but we’re coming together pretty good right now.”
“It’s just a testament to them,” Huber said. “They kept working at it. And as the year went along, offense started getting a little bit better. And I think we just found ways to win.”
Augustana is slated to begin the conference tournament Wednesday at noon against Wayne St. The double-elimination tournament is set to wrap up on Saturday.