Kaufman's solid senior season
Dickinson State's Taysia Kaufman closed in the circle during her final home game.
That game at Gress Softball Complex happened to be the championship of the A.I.I./Frontier Conference softball tournament against the University of Great Falls (Mont.) on May 5.
Kaufman earned the final out in the seventh inning with a lopsided lead and sent the Blue Hawks to the NAIA National Tournament.
For Kaufman, a senior from Huntington Beach, Calif., it was also a feeling of relief.
"It was really nice to win the conference tournament at home. Nobody wants to lose on their dirt," said Kaufman, who is DSU's No. 1 starting pitcher. "It's been a long road. We kind of struggled at first, splitting every game. We started coming out on top, started playing our game and realizing what potential, and what good things we had coming our way."
Kaufman played in the national tourney as a freshman and it has been a long journey back after back-to-back difficult seasons.
"It feels nice to go back to the national tournament," Kaufman said. "I came in and we went my freshman year. Now, to go out (as a senior) being there, it's nice."
Kaufman's hard work paid off in her final year as a Blue Hawk. She has a 10-4 record with a 2.45 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 111 1/3 innings pitched.
She was awarded the A.I.I./Frontier Pitcher of the Year and named to the all-conference team.
"I was really stoked about it," Kaufman said. "I thought I was just doing OK, you know. Then, I just started playing my game and just focusing. I guess the numbers spoke for itself."
At the plate, Kaufman leads the Blue Hawks with a .435 batting average, which also ranks in the top 50 of the NAIA, and has five triples, 22 RBIs and two homers.
Kaufman also plays center field for the Blue Hawks and has been a team leader for head coach Kristen Fleury.
"She's been a solid athlete for us the past four years," Fleury said. "She fought every single game she was out there, whether she was on the mound or in the outfield for us. It's a tribute to her career here at DSU and it's an honor for her."