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Record-breaking Tiger: Haage etches name in DWU record book

Dakota Wesleyan University's Sierra Haage delivers a pitch during the first game of a doubleheader against Hastings College on Wednesday at McWhirter Field. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Sierra Haage didn't set out to break any records, but that's exactly what she did.

The Dakota Wesleyan University junior softball player began the season closing in on school records for career strikeouts and wins. However, those weren't high on her list of priorities this season.

"I knew it was possible, but that wasn't my whole goal," she said. "I was just pitching."

Haage recently pitched her way into the record books by breaking the school records. She currently has 321 strikeouts and 35 wins. Kelly Custard (1997-2000) previously held the wins record with 30, while Brandi Nekrassoff (2009-12) held the strikeouts record with 298.

"I just felt really accomplished and it showed a lot from the hard work I have put in the past 16 years I have been playing and it's kind of all paying off," Haage said.

It's been paying off this season. The right-hander leads the Tigers in wins (11), ERA (3.05), strikeouts (86) and innings pitched (110).

"She has done extremely well," DWU coach Ed Kieff said. "But we have some other good pitchers. Our pitching staff is not too bad. She's just kind of been our workhorse these last few weeks."

She's also added a new changeup to her repertoire that she worked on during the offseason. It's paid dividends this season.

"The new changeup is harder for batters to pick up," Haage said. "It kind of adds an element of surprise to my windup a little bit. It's not as easy to tell and it kind of throws the batters off more."

But the Sioux Falls Roosevelt product does more than pitch. Haage is also batting .383 in 60 at-bats and has five home runs this season.

"She's kind of an all-around player," Kieff said. "She doesn't just pitch. She kind of has to work on a lot of different things and she is up for it."

And as Haage goes, so do the Tigers. Earlier this season, DWU trailed Mount Marty College 5-0 until she lifted the Tigers with her bat.

"She came up and in the fourth inning she hit a two-run homer and we just exploded for nine runs that inning," Kieff said. "So she's been pitching a lot. She's been playing a lot on the field. She's hit home runs for us. She has done just about everything."

But pitching has always been her thing. She immediately gravitated to pitching when she began playing softball.

"I liked the aspect of being able to control the game and kind of being in charge with that and I just thought it looked like fun to be involved with every single pitch," Haage said. "I liked the challenge of it."

She's continues to meet those challenges and has gotten better every season, said Kieff.

"She's been throwing in the low 60s these last few games and I attribute that to her lifting and she's gotten a lot stronger," Kieff said. "She's been working very hard on her strength and her endurance and things like that. She's got another year and I think it's going to be fun to watch her finish her career out."

The Tigers host Dordt College in a 4 p.m. doubleheader today at Dr. McWhirter Field.