MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan College softball team made a statement that it is a challenger in the Midwest Collegiate Conference once again, posting a surprising doubleheader sweep of Grand View University Wednesday afternoon at the Mapleleaf Community Complex.
The Tigers picked up a pair of well-earned victories over the Vikings, a team lurking just outside the NAIA national coaches’ poll this week. IWC won 3-2 in the opening game by scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, and then jumped on GVU early in the second game and held on for a 6-4 win and the sweep.
The two wins were easily the most significant ones in the past 1 ½ seasons for the Tigers, who improved to 10-12 this season just a year after finishing 11-42 overall. Wesleyan also improved to 6-2 in the MCC, already surpassing last year’s total for conference wins when the team finished 4-22 and at the bottom of the MCC.
IWC won the opener in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 2-1 deficit in a game that featured just seven hits between the two teams. Tiger pitcher Ashlee Winner (Sr.-Rushville, Ill.) held the Vikings to just three hits in the game, but two of them went for back-to-back solo home runs in the fourth inning to give Grand View a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers tied the game finally in the sixth when Sarah Weber (Jr.-Danville, Iowa) homered to left for her first home run of the season. Wesleyan then put two on with one out in the bottom of the seventh after Kara Harris (Jr.-Barry, Ill.) and Danielle Boyle (Jr.-Danville, Iowa) both walked. With leadoff hitter Stephanie Benge (Sr.-Mount Pleasant, Iowa) at the plate, GVU’s Kylee Jones unleashed a pitch that caught the dirt and briefly got away from catcher Amanda Phillips. Harris took off for third and as she slid in Phillips threw wild past the bag, allowing Harris to hustle home with the winning run.
The Tigers kept up the momentum in the second game, scoring in each of the first three innings to take a 3-1 lead as both Benge and Haleigh Hempen (Jr.-Hamilton, Ill.) drove in runs. IWC then tacked on three more in the fifth as Kelley Bettag (Fr.-Dale, Ind.) hit her first homer of the year and Hannah Milligan (Fr.-West Burlington, Iowa) later singled in two more.
Grand View would not go quietly, getting a two-run homer from Whitney Grimes in the sixth and then scoring one in the seventh against Wesleyan starter Rebecca Wilson (Fr.-Algonquin, Ill.), who kept the Vikings off balance most of the way until the late innings. Winner came on in relief in the seventh and after allowing an inherited runner to score retired the next three batters to wrap it up and earn her first save of the year.
Wilson pitched six-plus innings and allowed four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts for her first collegiate win. Seven players had hits for the Tigers in the second game led by Bettag and Jerri Fuentez (Sr.-Houston, Texas) with two each. Grand View dropped to 14-11 overall, 4-3 in the MCC. The Vikings this week are the first team outside the top 25 in the NAIA coaches’ poll, ranked 26th nationally and just four points from a tie for the 25th spot.
The Tigers will have no time to rest easy, for Thursday brings two games against MCC-leading William Penn University at 6 p.m. in Oskaloosa. The games are a rain date for a doubleheader originally scheduled earlier this week on Tuesday.
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; email@example.com e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Box score Game 1 IWC 3 GVU 2
Box score Game 2 IWC 6 GVU 4