Big Weekend for Bethel Athletics: Softball and Baseball Teams Win MIAC Titles as Track and Field Hosts MIAC Outdoor Championships

Bethel was at the center of the MIAC playoffs over the weekend. While the baseball and softball teams each repeated as MIAC champs, the track and field team hosted the MIAC Outdoor Championships for the first time. The program also celebrated the new track and field facilities at Royal Stadium with a ribbon-cutting and activities for alumni and supporters.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

May 17, 2023 | 12:30 p.m.

Bethel Baseball

The Bethel baseball team celebrates winning its second-straight MIAC playoff championship.

It was a historic weekend for Bethel’s spring teams. The baseball and the softball teams both won their second-straight MIAC playoff championships, earning trips to the NCAA playoffs. Meanwhile, the track and field program hosted the MIAC Outdoor Championships for the first time while also dedicating the new facilities at Royal Stadium. "This past weekend was such a meaningful weekend for Bethel athletics!” says Director of Athletics Greg Peterson ’92. “Hosting our first-ever MIAC track championships and winning MIAC playoff championships in both baseball and softball for the second consecutive year are great ways to amplify the excellence of Bethel University. I continue to be so impressed with how our student-athletes represent Bethel, make a kingdom impact, and compete at a high level."

Here’s a quick recap of the weekend:
Bethel Softball

The Bethel softball team celebrates its second-straight MIAC playoffs title.


The softball team repeated as MIAC champs by beating Saint Benedict 1-0 at Bethel’s Ona Orth Athletic Complex on Saturday, May 13. It was the 23rd win in a row for the Royals, matching a single-season record set just last year. Kayla Simacek ’24 came out on the winning side of a tense pitchers’ duel. She worked out of a jam with a key strikeout to end the fifth, stranding runners on second and third. Then in the seventh, catcher Cortney Hokanson ’22, GS’26 threw out a stealing runner at second for the final out of the game.

Top performers

  • Simacek pitched a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts, bringing her career total to 897 strikeouts.
  • Centerfielder Lexi DeBace ’22, GS’25 went 2-3 with the game’s lone RBI.

Up next

The win secured a trip to the NCAA playoffs, where Bethel, 33-3 overall, will play Wisconsin-La Crosse at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, in Pella, Iowa.

Head Baseball Coach Brian Raabe

Head Baseball Coach Brian Raabe celebrates the baseball team's second-straight MIAC playoff title with his players on May 13 in Collegeville, Minnesota.


The baseball team secured its second-straight MIAC title with a 4-0 win over Gustavus on Saturday, May 13, in Collegeville, Minnesota. Keenan Hodgkin ’22, GS’25 supplied the big blow for the Royals, mashing a three-run home run to left field in the first inning. Matthew Carlsen notched an RBI single in the second to make it 4-0. Royals starter Max Sutter and reliever Aidan Nelson held the Gusties scoreless.

Top performers

  • Hodgkin went 1-3 with a three-run homer. The first-baseman finished the tournament 5-10 with six RBI.
  • Max Sutter ’25 earned the win by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.
  • Aidan Nelson ’25 pitched 1 1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner while striking out one.

Up next

The Royals, 29-10 overall, earned a second-straight trip to the MIAC playoffs—Bethel lost in the regional finals last year. Bethel plays Buena Vista in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 19.

Jireh Babalola ’24

Jireh Babalola ’24 set a Bethel program record by running an 11.93 in the 100m dash as Bethel hosted the MIAC Outdoor Championships on May 13. She finished second. She also ran a personal best in the 200m, taking third.

Track and field

The track and field program hosted the MIAC Outdoor Championships over the weekend for the first time on campus. The event also served as a celebration of the new track and field facilities at Royal Stadium with a ribbon-cutting held on Saturday, May 13. "It was so special to be able to host the conference championships here at Bethel," Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Andrew Rock says. "We are so grateful to all the support from parents, alums, friends, family, and the whole university. Our team fed off the energy and had a great meet." The men finished third while the women finished fourth. Men’s athletes won five individual MIAC titles, and women’s athletes won three events and set two program records.

Top men’s team performers

  • Joel Smith ’22 won the 400m hurdles, setting a program and championship record.
  • Josh Sampson ’23 won the MIAC title in the 110m hurdles.
  • Jacob Parent ’24 won the 400m dash, setting a MIAC championship record.
  • Smith, Grant Nelson ’26, Sampson, and Parent won the 4x400 relay.
  • Adam Hokanson ’26 won the shotput with the second-best throw in program history.

Top women’s team performers

  • Glasha Hovey ’25 won the high jump, following up an indoor title over the winter.
  • Sarah Stellmach ’25 won the 200m dash with the second-fastest time in program history.
  • Nora Wilhelm ’26 won the discus by throwing a personal best—and the third-best in program history—in her last throw to win the event.
  • Jireh Babalola ’24 set a program record in the 100m dash and finished second. She also ran a personal best in the 200m, taking third.

Up next

A handful of Royals from the men's and women's teams will compete for a spot in the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships at the qualifiers in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Thursday, May 18.

The backstory

Bethel completed work on the first outdoor track and field facilities on campus last year. The work includes a blue nine-lane track and new jump, vault, and throws areas for track and field. The work was part of the athletics portion of the Called to More campaign, Bethel’s largest-ever capital campaign, which vastly exceeded its $150 million goal.

Josh Sampson ’23

Josh Sampson ’23 won his first individual MIAC title in the 110m hurdles at the MIAC Outdoor Championships on May 13. He ran a personal best of 14.38 seconds—the third fastest time in program history.

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