CORALVILLE – Grand View University’s Whitney Link hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning, and the Vikings went on to end the Iowa Wesleyan College softball season two innings later by scoring in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win in the Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament at the Creekside Softball Complex.
The sixth-seeded Tigers did not go down without a fight, giving the #3 seed Vikings a battle and nearly knocking GVU off for the third time this season. The IWC offense mustered just five hits in nine innings, though, and Grand View finally broke through against starting pitcher Ashlee Winner (Sr.-Rushville, Ill.) late in the game. Wesleyan fell out of the MCC tourney after staving off elimination earlier in the day and finished its season at 21-30 overall.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead over the Vikings in the third inning when Jerri Fuentez (Sr.-Houston, Texas) singled in Hannah Milligan (Fr.-West Burlington, Iowa). IWC very nearly made that fragile one-run lead stand up for the rest of the game, with Winner shutting out the Vikings for the first six innings.
With the Tigers just three outs from victory, Grand View finally got on the board when Link led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run just over the wall in left. The Vikings nearly won the game in regulation, putting runners on second and third with one out before Winner struck out two straight batters to send the game to extra innings.
The two teams were still tied going into the bottom of the ninth when GVU manufactured a run for the hard-fought win. Link reached on a leadoff walk and stole second, then was bunted over to third base. With one out, Amanda Phillips placed a perfect bunt between the pitcher’s mound and third base to score Link with the winning run.
Stephanie Benge (Sr.-Mount Pleasant, Iowa) finished with three of IWC’s five hits in the game. Winner took the loss after throwing 8 1/3 innings and allowing seven hits while striking out eight. She finished the season with 185 strikeouts, breaking the old school single season record by 45 strikeouts.
The Tigers reached the game with Grand View after opening the day with a 4-1 win over ninth-seeded Ashford University in the team’s first elimination game of the day. Molly Niedert (Jr.-Sumner, Iowa) made good use of just her 11th start of the season, delivering her first home run of the year, a two-run shot in the second inning that gave Wesleyan the lead for good.
Fuentez and Sarah Weber (Jr.-Danville, Iowa) both added RBI singles and Winner earned her 14th win of the season, throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Brooke Iversen (So.-Earlville, Ill.). The Tigers recorded their fifth win of the season over Ashford, which finished the year with a 2-43 record.
Thursday’s games were the final ones for seven IWC seniors, including Benge, Fuentez, Winner, Hilarie Droz (Ottumwa, Iowa), Katie Iversen (Earlville, Ill.), Brittany Johnson (Burlington, Iowa), Missie Simmons (Russell, Iowa). The MCC Tournament will conclude Friday with Waldorf College, William Penn University and Mount Mercy College the three teams still alive and #2 seed Waldorf the lone team unbeaten in the tourney so far.
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 #6 IWC 4 #9 Ashford 1
Box score #3 GVU 2 #6 IWC 1 (9 innings)
MCC Tournament Bracket