) hit a game-winning double in the bottom of the 11th inning to cap an outstanding performance in relief and give the Iowa Wesleyan College softball team a 7-6 win over Ashford University in the second game of a key Midwest Collegiate Conference doubleheader Monday night.
The Tigers went extra innings twice with the Saints in a wild doubleheader, losing the first game 8-6 in eight innings, but won the all-important second game to clinch a tie in the regular season standings with Ashford. Both teams finish 11-13 in the conference in the regular season, but Wesleyan wins a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Saints on the basis of winning two of three games in the teams' series this year.
As a result, IWC (23-30 overall) is in position to clinch the fourth seed in the upcoming MCC Tournament pending results of Tuesday's conference games. Both St. Ambrose University and Viterbo (Wis.) University are 9-13 in conference and need to sweep doubleheaders against Mount Mercy University and William Penn University, respectively, to finish in a tie with the Tigers and Saints. Both face tough tasks to do so as William Penn is the MCC regular season champion, and Mount Mercy has clinched third place in the conference.
Iowa Wesleyan and Ashford (28-24 overall) played long into the night in the second game until Holmes brought in the winning run, scoring Ayla Serrano
(Jr.-Rock Island, Ill.
) from first base with a double down the right field line in the 11th. The run capped a night of ups and downs and a game in which the Tigers scored five times in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 6-1 lead, but then surrendered five runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 6-6.
Holmes came on in the sixth inning to get the final out after a two-run homer by Kelly Dotzler marked the Saints' sixth home run of the night and tied the game. Coming on in relief, she continued to put zeroes on the board into extra innings, in all throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing just one hit and two base runners while striking out three to put herself in position to get the win when she was able to help her cause with the big hit.
IWC outhit Ashford 15-9 in the second game but stranded 13 baserunners to allow the Saints to hang around. Holmes also got revenge for missing an opportunity earlier to win the game in extra innings when she grounded out to first with the bases loaded to end the eighth, coming up to the plate after Serrano was walked intentionally to load the bases.
The Tigers needed the win especially after a difficult loss in the first game. The Saints slugged five home runs against IWC ace Sierrah Garcia
(Sr.-Los Banos, Calif.
), including a pair of solo homers in the seventh to tie the game and send it into extra innings and then a two-run blast by Hailey Hall in the eighth to provide the winning runs.
Wesleyan led 3-0 in the first game after Garcia herself hit a three-run homer in the first inning, but let Ashford back into the game with the long ball, briefly falling behind before scoring three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead. Garcia finished with an unusual stat line, allowing ten hits and eight runs (seven earned) while striking out ten and walking one but also hitting four batters. Her five home runs allowed were just three short of her entire season total (eight) in over 160 innings worked entering the game.Molly Ward
) finished with six hits on the night, including three hits in each game on Senior Night for the Tigers. Cari Smith
(So.-Des Moines, Iowa
) added four hits, and Serrano had all four of her hits in the second game. The game was the final at home for four IWC seniors, including Garcia, Ward, Jill Ginder
) and Sarah McCleary (Elgin, Ill.
Wesleyan now gets ready for the MCC tourney beginning with pod play Saturday. IWC will be matched in a double-elimination group of three teams, with the winners of the three pods as well as the highest seeded remaining team advancing to the MCC Final 4 the following weekend in Ames.Box score Game 1 Ashford 8 IWC 6
(8 inn.)Box score Game 2 IWC 7 Ashford 6