SIOUX CITY, Iowa-Hallie Misiaszek isn't ready to give up softball.
She was set to graduate from Morningside College and step away from the game at the end of the season. But just like when the Mitchell native transferred from Dakota Wesleyan University to Morningside prior to last season, she didn't want to walk away.
Her "heart missed the sport," after she left DWU's program during the 2017 season. And now in her second season with the Mustangs, she is having too much fun, leading to exercising her fifth year of eligibility and reclassifying as a junior.
"Everyone has been telling me, 'You're going to miss it when you're done. You're going to miss not playing that extra year,' " Misiaszek said. "I had been set on graduating this year, being done and moving on, but as the season went on last year and the start of this year, it's been so much fun."
Misiaszek is the latest star pitcher to emerge under Morningside coach and former South Dakota State pitcher Jessica Jones-Sitzmann. The right-hander regained her confidence and earned all-GPAC first-team honors last season, becoming the 10th pitcher to do so under Jones-Sitzmann since 2010.
That long lineage of success is partially what drew Misiasziek to reach out to Morningside, especially after competing against 2017 GPAC pitcher of the year Rachel Henks.
"I played the previous pitchers who had been here," Misiaszek said. "Henks is a big one, and watching her throw and seeing her develop and grow in the program was really exciting for me."
Henks graduated and Misiaszek stepped in, becoming the Mustangs' workhorse right away.
Her encore has been even more impressive, though. Misiaszek worked on improving her drop ball over the summer and tries to pitch down and out, rather than up in the zone like last season.
She's been nearly unhittable, allowing three or fewer earned runs in all but one of her 18 starts. She's also tossed 16 complete games, helping her sit second in the GPAC in ERA (1.64), opponent batting average (.209), innings pitched (115 1/3) and wins (14), while her 93 strikeouts rank third. She picked up nine wins during Morningside's recent 12-game winning streak, too, helping the Mustangs (21-8, 14-4 GPAC) climb to second in the GPAC.
"I think she understands and knows that she has a good team behind her," Jones-Sitzmann said. "That puts her at ease so she can relax, throw some pitches and understand that anyone behind you can go get the ball."
Trusting her teammates-not only in the field but also the batter's box-helped Misiaszek find her role on the team. She went from doing full pitching and hitting workouts every practice last season to realizing she could help the team more by focusing solely on pitching.
"It was just really exhausting," Misiaszek said. "And after going through the year and seeing how the team carried each other so well in the hitting lineup, I came to the realization that my role is a pitcher and a pitcher only."
While the results have followed in the circle, Jones-Sitzmann also mentioned her development as a fielder and leader.
Misiaszek's leadership took time as she bonded with her teammates and built relationships. She feels like a leader, though, even if she's now a junior.
"When she's not hitting, she's talking to her teammates trying to keep them up and working toward the same common goal," Jones-Sitzmann said. "... She's someone who has been able to control that circle, but also helps the younger ones in our program and through our staff. She's been an asset for us."
The benefits of Misiaszek competing for another year goes beyond the softball circle. She picked up a second major, with her set to graduate next May as a double-major in social and behavioral sciences and counseling psychology.
"I think it's kind of a win-win for me," Misiaszek said. "I'll be furthering my education and I'll get the opportunity to play softball."
Morningside hosts a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Hastings College on Monday.