DUBUQUE – Hilarie Droz (Sr.-Ottumwa, Iowa) hit a two-run double to tie the game in the top of the seventh and Sarah Weber (Jr.-Danville, Iowa) drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning as Iowa Wesleyan College won the opening game of a doubleheader against Clarke College on Thursday.
The Tigers defeated the Crusaders 5-4 in nine innings in the first of two games, while Clarke came back for a 6-4 win in the second game. Clarke’s win in the second game gave the Crusaders a split of the four-game series between the two teams on Wednesday and Thursday in Midwest Collegiate Conference play.
IWC rapped out 14 hits in the first game but needed a pair of late rallies just to get the game to extra innings. Clarke scored twice in the first inning and held the lead until the fifth, when Stephanie Benge (Sr.-Mount Pleasant, Iowa) singled in a run and Kelley Bettag (Fr.-Dale, Ind.) hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
The Crusaders scored a run in the bottom of the fifth to retake the lead and then added another in the sixth for a 4-2 lead going into the seventh. The Tigers came back as Colleen Baggett (Jr.-Rolling Meadows, Ill.) and Benge both singled and Bettag moved the runners over with a sacrifice, setting the stage for Droz hitting a double to the gap in right-center to tie the game.
Clarke put a runner at third in the bottom of the seventh before Ashlee Winner (Sr.-Rushville, Ill.) struck out the final two hitters of the inning to send the game to extra innings. Neither team scored in the eighth, but Benge started the ninth with a walk and a single, respectively. Both moved up on a wild pitch, and with one out Weber hit the ball sharply to right field to score Benge. The Crusaders went down in order in the ninth as Winner picked up her second win of the series, striking out nine in the game after a two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout performance Wednesday night.
The Crusaders came back with four runs in the first two innings of the second game, negating a brief 1-0 Wesleyan lead after Haleigh Hempen (Jr.-Hamilton, Iowa) singled in a run in the top of the first. Hempen would single in another run in the third to make it 4-2, but Clarke scored solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings for a four-run margin. The Tigers made one last effort in the seventh, as Weber hit two-run homer to make it 6-4, before Crusader pitcher Caitlin Woods closed the game out.
Benge had five hits in the doubleheader on Thursday, while Bettag and Droz both added four hits each as Wesleyan had 25 hits over the two games. The Tigers are now 16-20 overall, 8-8 in the MCC. Clarke is now 14-18 overall, 10-9 in conference play.
IWC will take Friday off before playing a pair of doubleheaders against Waldorf College this weekend at the Mapleleaf Athletic Complex. The series will begin Saturday with a pair of games scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
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 5 Clarke 4 (9 inn.)
Box score Game 2 Clarke 6 IWC 4