Washburn softball soars past RiverHawks in senior day sweep


Kohichiro Yamada

Washburn seniors Maddie Stipsits (19), Ashton Friend (20) and Raegen Hamm (22) smile during senior day ceremonies April 24, 2022, Topeka, Kansas. Washburn softball recognized its three seniors between games.

Even after scoring only six combined runs, Washburn softball’s undefeated home record still stands, now at 24-0, after a doubleheader sweep over Northeastern State University with scores of 3-0 and 3-2.

“Pitching and defense is so important for games like that and I thought we were really good in those two areas today,” said head coach Brenda Holaday. “It’s just about kids battling at the plate and I think we battled … we did enough to win.”

The Ichabods’ overall winning streak extended to 18 games, a new high mark in Holaday’s six years as the team moved to 38-11 on the year.

Between games, the team recognized its group of three seniors, Raegan Hamm, Maddie Stipsits, and Ashton Friend.

“Their work ethic is great. They just have a way of just creating such a positive and good culture with our kids, and the others follow,” Holaday said. “To be honest, I don’t know that I would single any one of them out as a great leader but collectively, man have they done a good job.”

Hamm will finish as Washburn’s all-time strikeout leader while the two position players have combined to make 78 starts this season.

In a season of spectacular performances, sophomore Jaycee Ginter was as sharp as ever, throwing a complete game shutout and allowing only one hit and one walk in game one.

“The great part about her is she comes out and sets the tone for the day,” Holaday said. “She instills confidence in all of us … it was huge.”

Season-long success from Ginter and freshman Marrit Mead, who scored the walk-off run in game two, have propelled Washburn to No. 7 in the latest NCAA Central Regional rankings and a tie at the top of the MIAA standings.

Washburn will get a chance to improve its regional and national standings in its two final home games against No. 8 Rogers State April 25.

“Tomorrow is a big day for us, battling for first in the conference obviously so we are going to have to come prepared as they are going to be,” Ginter said.

Ginter started her day in the circle with two hitless innings against the RiverHawks. In the bottom of the second, freshman Jaden LaBarge doubled and was brought home on a single from junior Kimi Patterson to put the Ichabods on the board.

Through four innings, Ginter was still working a no-hitter to go along with five strikeouts. Patterson put another run on the board in the fourth inning, scoring Friend with a ground rule double.

Junior Hadley Kerschen grounded to second base to score LaBarge, putting Washburn up 3-0.

That was all the scoring in the game as the Ichabods managed only two more hits the rest of the way. On the other end Ginter kept Northeastern State hitless until there was only one out in the seventh inning.

She finished the game striking out eight batters and allowing just one hit and one walk over seven innings of work to earn win number 24 on the year in the 3-0 victory.

“I didn’t feel any pressure,” Ginter said. “I felt pretty confident going into the game and I knew that we needed it.”

Hamm took over in the circle for game two and threw a scoreless first two innings allowing just one hit.

At the plate, Patterson led off the bottom of the second with a single and was moved to third with an error in the field after Kerschen put a ball in play. Freshman Kaylee Wagner grounded out to second base, scoring Patterson.

Kerschen was able to score on a wild pitch, putting Washburn up 2-0 after two innings of play.
The RiverHawks loaded the bases in the third but could not score. Back-to-back doubles led off the fourth inning against Hamm as she surrendered her first and only run of the game.

She exited after four innings pitched, striking out four and allowing just the one run with the score still at 2-1.

Ginter took over and threw scoreless fifth and sixth innings. She surrendered a single and double in the top of the seventh before a sacrifice fly tied the game at two and the game moved to extra innings.

In extra innings, Ginter retired the Northeastern State in order. Mead led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. Freshman Ellington Hogle pinch-hit for an infield single, and a walk from Ginter loaded the bases.

“My thinking was, if Marrit got on we would bring Ellie in to bunt because she is the best bunter we have on the team,” Holaday said. “For a freshman who doesn’t get to be on the field a lot to stay ready and come in for a big pressure moment and do that was huge for her.”

Friend struck out swinging but the wild pitch went to the backstop, allowing Mead to score and walk off with a 3-2 win.

Washburn’s MIAA record sits at 20-2 after the sweep as the team heads into its final two home games against the Hillcats.

Edited by: Alyssa Storm, Simran Shrestha