Vikings baseball team sails into the postseason

Timothy Wallis

The baseball team finished the regular season on fire, with a 16-game winning streak. The Vikings finished as the number one team in the conference, winning it outright with a regular season record of 33-6 and 16-2 in conference matchups. 

Despite having many successful seasons since then, this was the first time the Vikings had won the CCIW Conference since the 2014 season. This feat is a massive accomplishment for this team. One player who understood the importance of it was junior Harrison Boushele. 

“The last couple of years, we haven’t been able to [win Conference] even when we’ve had really successful seasons, so being able to kind of capitalize on that was awesome this year,” Boushele said.

Though they only lost two games versus conference opponents, those games were very much within the team’s reach. Both of those losses were against North Central College, who was ranked number 23 during the games. Some players wish they could get those games back against North Central. 

“There were two games, two conference games against North Central where I feel like we had a couple of bad things that could have been cleaned up,” senior Chase Maifield said. “We felt that we really should have won those games.” 

After the regular season, Augustana hosted the CCIW Conference tournament for baseball from Wednesday, May 10 to Saturday, May 13. For their first game, the Vikings faced off against Carroll University, a team from Waukesha, Wisconsin. The Vikings easily won by a score of 11-1 in eight innings. The team beat North Park University in the next game to set up a rematch against North Central. The Vikings then got their revenge on the North Central Cardinals, winning by a score of 7-4. 

The team was confident in winning the tournament but wanted to take things one at a time and not look too far ahead. 

“I mean, you know, we’re pretty confident with it. But we don’t take that confidence for granted. It’s still the conference tournament, and anything can happen. Baseball can be a wild sport,” Boushele said.

On Saturday May 13, the team faced Illinois Wesleyan University in the CCIW tournament championship. In the first game, the Vikings were defeated 3-1, but since the tournament is in a double-elimination format, they played one more game to decide the conference tournament champion. In a wild, 10-inning game, the Vikings won on a walk-off single from senior Matt Ozanic. 

Junior Alex Simon was a key contributor for the Vikings during the season. The third baseman went two-for-five with a run scored in the championship game on Saturday. 

“It was surreal. I felt like I was in a dream, and I just woke up when I was sitting on a bench after the game, like 30 minutes after. I finally came back into reality, and it was just an insane doing,” Simon said.

The Vikings will play in the NCAA Division-III tournament next in the regional round. 

Though the season is not finished yet, there is little to no worry that there will be big holes due to the seniors leaving. Many underclassmen players returning next year are ready to step up and make an even more significant impact on the team. 

“We have guys — freshmen, sophomores, juniors — that can step up, and I have full confidence in them to do the same thing as our seniors did,” Simon said. “Our seniors lead a great class, and they will be missed for sure, but I’m very confident that the people we have below us and in our grade to step up and fill those spots.”