Hastings came back from an 8-1 first game defeat to win the GPAC Softball Post-Season Tournament title.

Allie Martinez

Hastings rebounded from an 8-1 loss in the first game to defeat ninth-ranked Morningside 5-2 and 5-4 in the next two games to win the GPAC Softball Championship Series on Monday at the Jensen Complex.

Morningside (39-10) and Hastings (36-22) will both advance to the upcoming NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round on May 15-17, with Morningside serving as one of the 10 host sites across the country.

Hastings, the only team to beat the Mustangs on their home field this season, ended a 10-game Morningside winning streak with its second game triumph. The Broncos appeared on the verge of ending the Mustangs’ winning streak one game earlier when Hastings starting pitcher Sarah Barger took a one-hit  shutout and a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning of the championship series opener before the Broncos became unglued during an eight-run Mustang rally.

Tracy Edwards ignited the Mustangs’ sixth inning rally with a leadoff single. The Broncos then made the first of their three errors in the inning when Barger fielded a sacrifice bunt by Abby Conner and threw the ball into foul territory, sending Edwards to third base. After Conner stole second base, the Broncos’ right fielder dropped a fly ball off the bat of Rachel Koch that allowed Edwards and Conner to score and give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead. A single by Emilee Dorpinghaus and a walk to Moriah Bohlmann loaded the bases and set up a two-run single by Allie Martinez. Conner also had a two-run single later in the inning and two other runs scored on another throwing error by the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt by Elin Landgren.

Rachel Henks

Morningside’s eighth inning rally wiped out a 1-0 Hastings lead that had stood since the top of the first inning when Corinn Ziepke blasted a two-out solo home run to center field.

Morningside finished with five hits against Barger, who walked two and struck out five.

Rachel Henks pitched a six-hitter with one walk and 10 strikeouts to get the win and raise her record to 33-6 to tie the Morningside record for wins in a season previously set by Whitney McElrath when she went 33-12 in 2006.

Henks took a 1-0 lead and a no-hitter into the fifth inning of the second game before things unraveled for the Mustangs when they made two errors that enabled the Broncos to score five unearned runs.

Alex Schmidt led off the Hastings fifth inning with a walk before a sacrifice bunt by Cara Williams and a Morningside throwing error put runners at the corners and set up a game-tying RBI single by Chloe Boeka. The big blow of the inning came with two outs when Hastings pitcher Josie Bumgardner belted a grand slam home run to stake herself to a 5-1 lead.

McKenzie Anderson

Morningside had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Bohlmann doubled, advanced to third on a single by Martinez and came home on a sacrifice fly by McKenzie Anderson.

The Mustangs scored their final run in the sixth when Anderson doubled and scored when Landgren bounced into a fielder’s choice.

Morningside outhit the Broncos by a 10-4 margin and had two-hit performances from Dorpinghaus, Martinez and Mara Amsberry.

Bumgardner survived the 10 Morningside hits to get the pitching win. Bumgardner (13-6) walked three and struck out five.

Henks allowed only four hits in defeat. She walked eight and struck out six.

Hastings jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the deciding third game when Williams led off the game with a walk and scored on a double by Lexie Linderman.

The Broncos used the same two-player combination in the third inning when Williams walked and Linderman launched her 16th home run of the season to make it 3-0.

Mara Amsberry

Hastings increased its lead to 5-0 when Boeka and Ziepke delivered RBI singles in the fourth inning.

Ashlynn Clifford, who mad only her fifth pitching start of the season for the Broncos, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before the Mustangs broke through with a pair of two-out runs. Clifford had retired 12 batters in a row before she walked Anderson with two outs in the fifth. Amsberry followed with the Mustangs’ first hit of the game when she took Clifford deep for a two-run home run.

The Mustangs used another two-run blast to chase Clifford with one out in the seventh inning when Bohlmann singled and Martinez hit the left field foul pole to bring the Mustangs within 5-4.

Bumgardner took over in relief and retired the Mustangs’ next two hitters to add a save to her second game victory.

Clifford (4-2) allowed four runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts to get the win.

Pairings for next week’s NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round will be announced on Wednesday.