Omaha stuns South Dakota State, captures Summit League softball championship

May 11—BROOKINGS — Another successful season has ended in disappointment at the hands of the Omaha Mavericks for the South Dakota State softball team.

The Jackrabbits once again won the regular season conference title and hosted the Summit League tournament on their home field, and once again came up short, as the Mavericks beat SDSU twice on Saturday to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

The top-seeded Jacks entered the day needing just one win, but they fell 5-2 and then 7-0 to the Mavs and ace pitcher Kamryn Meyer. It's the second year in a row the Jacks won the regular season title but were ousted by Omaha in the conference tournament.

"I'm definitely gonna be feeling it tomorrow," Meyer said after working 14 innings in four hours. "But I was willing to do whatever I had to do for my teammates. It's super special to be able to play with these girls. These seniors were going to put everything on the line, no matter what it took, and I'm super grateful for this opportunity."

"What a performance," said Mavs coach Mike Heard of his ace pitcher. "I've said for a couple years now, when she goes out there you just know what you're gonna get. She's that good. At a certain point you run out of adjectives to describe her. She's incredible."

Alex Olson's grand slam in the sixth inning was the decisive blow in the first game, and they scored four in the first inning of the second game to take control they'd never relinquish under Meyer, the Summit League pitcher of the year.

The Jacks had chances to win the opener. They had seven hits off Meyer, creating constant traffic on the bases, but they couldn't come through with the big hit with runners on.

Omaha had taken a 1-0 lead on a homer by Maggie O'Brien, but the Jacks answered with a solo homer from Mia Jarecki, the Summit League player of the year. The Jacks kept the pressure on Meyer from there, but as they failed to take advantage, the Mavs hurler eventually found a groove.

Jacks ace Tori Kniesche matched her until the sixth, when the wheels fell off.

Lynsey Tucker and O'Brien singled, and pinch-hitter Sammy Schmidt laid down a bunt the Jacks couldn't turn into an out, loading the bases. Olson then followed with a long drive that just cleared the right-center field wall, blowing the game open.

Omaha chose to bring Meyer back into the circle in Game 2 while the Jacks went with No. 2 starter Shannon Lacey, who couldn't get out of the first inning, allowing four runs to dig the Jacks a devastating hole.

Kniesche came on in the fourth inning with the Jacks down 5-0, and she allowed two runs in 3.2 innings before she was removed with one out to go in the seventh inning for a curtain call on a historic career that saw her win two Summit League pitcher of the year awards.

Meyer, meanwhile, kept on dealing, allowing just three hits in the complete game shutout, and fielding a comebacker for the final out. She improved to 25-4 on the season. The Mavs record heading into the NCAA tournament is 41-13.

The Jacks finish the season 33-22. The Mavericks were the only Summit League team to defeat them.