Record 25-26 (10-12) Summit League Champions (Lost in Corvallis Regional)
Seniors on the Bison baseball team came into the 2014 campaign with a bad taste in their mouths. After two historic seasons in a row, the baseball team had to deal with back-to-back gut wrenching losses in the conference championship game. It just wasn’t the fact they lost a game, but the circumstances surrounding the loss cut deep. Old arms on the pitching staff graduated and the window to capture their first Summit League Championship figured to have been slammed shut.
“It took us awhile to get into a rhythm this year because we didn’t pitch very well and we weren’t swinging the bats,” head coach Tod Brown said. With six seniors in the lineup and the conference schedule around the corner, the Bison knew they needed to get back on track if they wanted to even sniff another conference championship game. The bats got hot and the pitching staff found their collective groove as the Bison went 17-8 down the stretch, led by Tim Colwell, Kyle Kleinendorst, Wes Satzinger and pitching ace, David Ernst.
“If there was anything that put us over the edge, it was the agony of getting our guts ripped out the past two years and not wanting that to happen again,” said Brown about the team’s end-of-the-year success.
The Bison’s championship game demons were deflected as John Skrbec’s grand slam home run in the Summit League Championship game against Western Illinois gave the Bison an early lead. They didn’t look back, winning 9-0. The Bison baseball team were Summit League Champions for the first time in school history, and on their way to the NCAA Tournament.
“It was a special moment to see the players dog pile after the win,” explained Brown. “I would say one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever had was giving Gene Taylor a hug. I broke down simply because he was the guy that gave me a chance. I was so happy to put a ring on his finger and a trophy in his trophy case.”
The Bison brought home the the ninth conference championship for NDSU in the 2013-14 athletic year. The team was rewarded with an appearance on ESPNU against the number one team in the country, the Oregon State Beavers.
A second inning home run by Kleinendorst and a gutty pitching performance by Ernst wasn’t enough as NDSU fell to the number one seed. They were eliminated the next day by UNLV, but the memories and experience gained is something the Bison will look to build on next season.
- Sr, Outfielder, Tim Colwell – Summit League Player of the Year, 1st Team All-League, Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team
- Sr, Catcher, Michael Leach – 1st Team All-League
- Sr, Infielder, Kyle Kleinendorst – 2nd Team All-League
- Sr, Infielder, Wes Satzinger – 2nd Team All-League
- Jr, Pitcher, David Ernst – 2nd Team All-League
- Jr, Pitcher, Parker Trewin – 2nd Team All-League
- Jr, Pitcher, Trevor Jaunich – 2nd Team Al-League
36-18 (13-3) Summit League Champions (Lost in Minneapolis Regional)
The tone for an entire season is rarely conceived during the first tournament or first month of the season. The tone is developed the first time a team’s back is against the wall. The Bison were favorites to win the Summit League after falling short in 2013. The first conference series of the season was played on the road against a hungry IUPUI team. The score was 1-1 when IUPUI had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. The tone was ready to be set.
“There were a lot of times when we challenged our kids throughout the year,” said co-head coach Jamie Trachsel. “This was a good growing moment, we need you guys to perform now. And they did it.”
The Bison were a young team this season and through the inexperience, they came out victorious against IUPUI in the first game of the season after a tremendous pitching display by Krista Menke. Sophomore Cheyenne Garcia broke the tie with a home run in the top of the ninth. Getting out of the seventh inning jam and coming from behind to win instilled the resilience the Bison discovered during the 2014 season.
IUPUI wasn’t the last time the Bison resilience was put to the test. The Bison found themselves with their backs against the wall after losing their first game of the Summit League tournament. “It was do or die time after that,” head coach Darren Mueller said, mentioning a team meeting he called the next day. “No one in that meeting honestly thought we couldn’t come back and win the tournament,” Trachsel said.
The tone that was set earlier in the season against IUPUI pushed the Bison through the rest of the tournament, as they went on to win five elimination games in a row. It was the fifth Summit League Championship in six years for the Bison. And the icing on the cake was added when they went down to the Minneapolis Regional and defeated Auburn in the first round.
The Bison were bounced out of the tournament two games later, but Mueller and Trachsel know they will be back for more in 2015.
“They’re coming back early to work out and they have lofty goals,” said Trachsel. “But they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is.”
- Jr, Outfielder, Alex Sobrero – 1st Team All-League
- So, Infielder, Cheyenne Garcia – 2nd Team All-League
- Sr, Catcher, Jenina Ortega – 2nd Team All-League
- Sr, Designated Player, Jackie Stifter – 2nd Team All-League
- Jr, Pitcher, Krista Menke – 2nd Team All-League
- Summit League Coaching Staff of the Year
Summit League Champions
Before the football team won three FCS championships, before the athletic department’s transition to division I and before Gene Taylor took over as athletic director, there was one Bison program above the rest. That program was the Bison track team. With a rich history dating back to when men’s head coach Don Larson took over the program in the the early 1980s, it’s no surprise both the men’s and women’s team has continued their success at the division I level.
2014 reassured that dominance as the women’s team brought home the Summit League Outdoor crown for the seventh consecutive season and the men’s team won the title for its fifth year in a row.
“I think part of it for me, it’s the fear of losing that motivates me,” said women’s head coach Ryun Godfrey. Godfrey has led the Bison to three consecutive Triple Crowns. Winning the championship in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field in the same season is not small feat for Godfrey, who also won both USTFCCCA’s Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year awards for the Midwest Region.
Godfrey wasn’t the only one cleaning house when it comes to hardware. The women’s 4×400 relay team qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. Ashley Tinglestad, Antoinette Goodman, Paige Stratioti and Morgan Milbrath placed 14th out of 24 teams that qualified. The girl’s 3:35.36 time was good enough to finish ahead of school’s like South Carolina, Arizona State and Minnesota.
Beating national powers combined with the magnitude of the meet gave NDSU more than just medals to hang in the trophy case. “The exposure at the University of Oregon is second to none, so we had a packed stadium every day,” said Godfrey. “That was nice for the athletes to see people standing in line to get tickets to get in.”
The men broke a record of their own, qualifying six athletes for the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Fayetteville, Ark. Brett Kelly shined in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, coming only six seconds short of a spot in the NCAA Championships.