After a season of torching defenses and lighting up scoreboards, Haidyn Pitsch’s efforts were recognized on Wednesday.

The Dakota Wesleyan University guard was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference freshman of the year. She started all 25 games for the Tigers, averaging 14 points and 3.4 rebounds per game during their 14-11 campaign.

“To me, it means all my hard work and everything I put into the game since before I can remember has paid off,” Pitsch said.

In her first career game, she led DWU in scoring with 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting in a 21-point win over Dickinson State. It foreshadowed the impact she’d make over the next few months.

The Prior Lake, Minnesota native finished 10th in scoring in the conference, notching a career-high 25 points in an upset win over Concordia (Neb.) on Jan. 6. She became a dynamic guard for the Tigers, one who could drive to the hoop or hit 3-pointers at a 35.7 percent clip. Her 56 made 3s ranked sixth in the GPAC.

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“I think with the confidence that the coach here had in me, and the confidence my teammates had in me really played a big role,” said Pitsch, who was also named to the all-GPAC first team. “My coaches always told me they had faith in me, and put me in the right places to succeed. I just took that and knew what I was capable of doing, and went out every night and did what I could do.”

Matti Reiner also made the all-GPAC second team. The Tripp native averaged 13.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game on 44.5 percent shooting. Former Hanson High School standout Jada Campbell and Kaylee Kirk each made honorable mention, as well.

It gives the Tigers four starters earning postseason accolades, with all of them eligible to return next year. For a team who had to replace nearly its entire starting lineup, it’s a welcome sign for the future.

“I think that’s huge everyone’s back next year,” Pitsch said. “I think every team should be a little scared when they have to play us next year because obviously we’re capable of doing a lot here in the GPAC. I think no team should count us out for next year.”

Ethan native and Dordt (Iowa) forward Karly Gustafson also earned all-GPAC second team honors. She posted 11.2 points and 6.6 boards per contest.