Western Michigan softball crept into the MAC tournament after finishing the season eighth in the conference (18-26 overall; 9-11 MAC). They will be squaring off against the No. 1 seed Miami Redhawks Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Akron, Ohio.
The Broncos have done a good job staying relevant in the MAC over the last handful of years. This will be WMU’s fourth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament, they also won the tournament back in 2011.
WHAT WMU MUST EXECUTE ON
For the Broncos to have a fighting chance coming in as the underdog, they will need to to rely on a few players to continue their dominance and make sure their fielding is better than in the regular season.
Sydney Stefanick has been a big part of the Broncos success this season as she has been dominate on the mound and in the batter’s box. Stefanick has been one of the best pitchers in the conference according to getsomemaction.com she ranks 10 out of 28 qualified pitchers. Her season stats consist of a 3.15 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 126.2 innings pitched with a 10-9 record.
Western will need batters like Sydney Stefanick, Kaylen Glenfield and Mackenzie Swinehart to keep up the high level of production they’ve held all season.
According to getmesomemaction.com, Stefanick ranks third in the MAC among 102 qualified batters. Stefanick has posted a team best .384 best batting average, she is second in the MAC with 47 RBI and is third in the conference with 12 home runs.
The Broncos ranked fourth overall in the MAC in pitching and will need pitchers like Jordan Kurth and Reily Galloway to step up and perform if called upon to hold down Miami’s bats. Kurth ranked fourth in the conference with an opponent batting average of .220 and an ERA of 2.08 which ranks sixth in the MAC.
Glenfield is second on the team with a .338 batting average along with two home runs and 21 RBI.
Swinehart has posted a .327 batting average with 17 RBI, she has not hit one over the fences this season, but leads the team in triples with three.
WMU ranked eighth in the MAC in fielding and considering that Miami is one of the top batting teams in the conference, that is something they will want to make sure is on point going into Wednesday.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
Miami is coming into the tournament as the favorite to win it all, posting a 33-14 overall record and 16-4 record in the MAC. They are also the hottest team in the conference ending the season on a 12 game win streak.
Miami had the best pitching and defense during MAC play this year. The Redhawks fielding percentage during conference play this year was .980 and their ERA was 1.69.
The Redhawks dominated the batter’s box this season finishing the season ranked fifth in the MAC in total batting average at .278 and RBI accumulating 196, they also ranked third in the MAC in total home runs hitting 42 long bombs.
Some players that the Broncos will need to keep an eye on and prepare for are Redhawk outfielder Lily Wilmot and pitcher Courtney Vierstra. Wilmot shares the lead for the most RBI in conference play with 21. Courtney Vierstra is the MAC leader in strikeouts this season who has 111.
It is no mistake that the Redhawks finished the season ranked first in the conference and are now the favorite to win the MAC going into postseason play.
This will be the first time that the two teams will be facing each other in the 2019 season, so the Broncos must control the game with great pitching and be on fire when in the batter’s box. They must also be perfect when on defense and not make any miscalculations if they want to have a chance to upset the powerhouse Redhawks.
If Western wins the contest, they will advance to the winners bracket and play the winner of No. 4 Northern Illinois and No. 5 Central Michigan. If they lose, they will move on to the losers bracket with one last chance to advance in the tournament playing the loser of Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.