IWC clubs way to SLIAC softball sweep
Iowa Wesleyan College got the best of St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Eureka College in a drawn out, offensive battle on Wednesday afternoon, then shut down the Red Devils late in the second game to sweep the home doubleheader.
The Tigers claimed a 13-12, eight-inning win in the opener and won a 12-4, five-inning decision in the nightcap.
The teams combined for 25 runs on 24 hits and six fielding errors in game one. With the wind blowing out, each team had two home runs, and there were also three doubles and a triple in the eight-inning slugfest.
IWC added two more blasts in game two.
It was just another day on the diamond for the Tigers, who haven’t had much trouble at the plate this season. They are averaging nearly six runs per game and have scored in double figures eight times.
“If you would have told me before the season that we would have one young lady with eight home runs (Mikayla Dwyer), and told me the number of extra-base hits — well, I’m surprised,” Coach Mike Hampton said. “We’ve had a lot of pop in our bats.
“We’ve had a freshman really step up in Caitlin O’Neil. Different people throughout our lineup are stepping up, and I have been pleasantly surprised.”
O’Neil went 2-for-4 with a walk, four RBIs and three runs scored in game one yesterday, and was 3-for-3 with a run scored in game two.
The leadoff batter scored the first run for the Tigers in yesterday’s opener. She walked, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kassie Vazquez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Haleigh Cowan.
That’s the kind of small ball that Hampton expected before the season started.
But that’s not all the Tigers can do.
Dwyer proved that as she followed the first run of the game with a solo homer to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
Eureka cut the lead down to one with a run in the top of the second frame, but IWC responded by tacking on six more runs to its total. They had five hits in the inning and took advantage of three Eureka errors.
With a seven-run lead, the Tigers allowed the Red Devils six runs of their own in the third frame.
IWC stretched its lead once again with in the bottom of the inning on a three-run blast by O’Neil. However, Eureka was able to keep the IWC bats quiet for the next four innings as it chipped away at the Tigers’ edge.
The Red Devils scored one in the fifth and three in the sixth.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh frame, forcing an eighth inning.
Eureka got one run across in the top of the inning, putting the pressure on their hosts, but IWC responded when Andrea Bury singled to score Kelsie Bunnell, tying the game again.
Kristine Becks then eked out a two-out single, Samantha Shepard was hit by a pitch, and Jillian Leutscher hit a walk-off single to bring home Bury.
O’Neil, Cowan, Becks and Stube each had a multi-hit game against the Red Devils, and six other Tigers had one hit each.
Stephanie Tillman started on the mound for IWC, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up seven hits and nine walks for 11 runs, 10 earned. She struck out four batters.
“She pitched a great game Saturday, but last night, couldn’t find the plate,” Hampton said. “That happens with freshman pitchers, some inconsistency. But we also had two fly balls dropped — one that let them take the lead.”
The Tigers had two errors in the game to Eureka’s four.
“Our young players are really trying,” Hampton said. “Sometimes they try too hard. But I can’t complain on aggressiveness.”
Jillian Leutscher pitched in relief in game one, allowing one hit, one walk and one unearned run in 2 1/3 innings. She fanned four of the 10 batters she faced. She got the win.
Leutscher added to her win total in game two, going all five frames and allowing nine hits and one walk for four earned runs. She sat down one batter on strikes.
Eureka got the early lead in game two, posting a pair of runs in the first frame and two more in the second.
“Their hits early were good hits,” Hampton said. “Also, we still have to learn to adjust on the mound to what is being called a strike. If it’s a small strike zone, we have to adjust and move forward.”
Leutscher adjusted later in the game, as the Tigers shut out the Red Devils in the last three innings.
Meanwhile, IWC kept getting more effective at the plate, scoring one run in the second, three in the third and five in the fourth inning.
They ended the game with a three-run fifth, as O’Neil doubled and Leutscher hit a two-run home run.
Dwyer then singled and Bury singled, and Voss singled to bring pinch runner Vazquez home.
O’Neil had three hits in the game; Cowan and Dwyer each went 2-for-3 and scored twice. Dwyer had four RBIs. Jessica Siggers went 2-for-2 with two runs knocked in.
The Tigers are now 14-6 overall and improve to 8-6 in the conference standings.
They play again Friday at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.