MOUNT PLEASANT – Kara Harris (Sr.-Berry, Ill.) and Leigha Strong (Jr.-Muscatine, Iowa) both hit home runs and Iowa Wesleyan College became the first Midwest Collegiate Conference team to knock off Mount Mercy College this season, splitting a doubleheader with the Mustangs Wednesday at the Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.
The Tigers lost the first game 4-0 as Mount Mercy’s Becca Smith threw a one-hitter, but the Wesleyan bats were smoking in the second game in an 8-4 win. The Mustangs, receiving votes in the NAIA national coaches’ poll, lost for the first time in conference play and are now 10-1 in the MCC (22-8 overall), while IWC moved to 6-7 in the conference (15-25 overall).
Wesleyan reached both extremes of the offensive spectrum over the course of the evening, struggling to even put the ball in play in the first game before hitting the ball hard throughout the second game. IWC had just one hit and two base runners in the first game, but managed 10 hits, five of them for extra bases, as well as a whole host of well-hit balls throughout the second game.
Mount Mercy’s Smith dominated the opener, striking out 15 Tigers and allowing only a single by Sarah Weber (Sr.-Danville, Iowa) with one out in the fifth. The sophomore struck out the first 11 IWC hitters of the game and threw her 10th shutout of the season, improving to 15-3 this season with 169 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 119 2/3 innings.
The first game seemed to prime IWC for the second game, though, as the Tigers got to Mustang starter Mariah Early often. The Mustangs scored first with two in the top of the second, but Wesleyan loaded the bases and with two out Ayla Serrano (Fr.-Rock Island, Ill.) hit a two-run double to tie the game in the bottom of the inning.
Mount Mercy hit three home runs early in the second game, including a two-run shot from Liz Hill in the top of the third to give MMC the lead again, but the Tigers answered with one in the third and then went ahead with two runs in the fourth. Ashley Mysliwiec (Fr.-Antioch, Ill.) singled in a run to tie it and Serrano scored the lead run on a wild pitch.
IWC then went to the long ball for the remainder of its runs. After Lauren Konop (Fr.-Plano, Ill.) opened the fifth with a double, Harris followed two batters later with a two-run homer to right field, her seventh of the season. The Tigers then scored their final run in the sixth when Strong led off and hit the first pitch from Mustang relief pitcher Jackie Nale over the scoreboard in left field for a solo home run.
Serrano collected the win in the second game, pitching a complete game and allowing five hits while striking out four for her eighth win this year. She also led the offensive attack with three hits, while Harris also added two hits, adding a double along with her home run.
Iowa Wesleyan will step out of MCC play for a non-conference doubleheader Friday afternoon against Bellevue (Neb.) University at 5 p.m. at the Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.
For more information regarding the IWC softball program or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Box score Game 1 MMC 4 IWC 0
Box score Game 2 IWC 8 MMC 4