AMES - The Iowa Wesleyan College softball team is on another surprise run through the Midwest Collegiate Conference Softball Tournament, and the Tigers are now one win away from their second straight trip to the NAIA Softball National Championships.
The fourth-seeded Tigers upset No. 1 seed William Penn University 5-1 in their first game of the MCC Final 4 at the Southwest Sports Complex at Iowa State University. IWC then defeated third seed Mount Mercy University 2-1 in eight innings in their second game of the day to finish the first day as the only team undefeated thus far in the four-team double-elimination bracket.
A year after the Tigers (26-33 overall) ran through the conference tournament as a No. 7 seed for an unlikely title and trip to the NAIA championships, Iowa Wesleyan is again just one win from winning the conference tournament. IWC will face the winner of an elimination game Sunday between William Penn and Mount Mercy, and that team will need to beat the Tigers twice. If Wesleyan defeats that team in either Game 6 of the Final 4 or in a final Game 7 if necessary, the Tigers will clinch the tournament title for the second straight year.
IWC opened the day with an impressive win over the top seed Penn. Sierrah Garcia
(Sr.-Los Banos, Calif.
) outpitched MCC Pitcher of the Year Jennifer Whitehead, limiting the Lady Statesmen to just five hits and one run while striking out eight and walking two.Molly Ward
) led the Tigers with two hits, including a two-run single in the seventh when the Tigers scored three times to add some insurance runs in a close game. Garcia added two hits and Ashley Mysliwiec
) and Tory Beaver
(Jr.-North Liberty, Iowa
) both drove in runs. Beaver had two hits and doubled in the fourth with two outs to score Ashley Stube
) with what proved to be the winning run.
Iowa Wesleyan as a team recorded nine hits against Whitehead, the two-time MCC Pitcher of the Year who went the distance and allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out five and walking three. William Penn (43-16) fought off elimination later on Saturday with an 8-6 win over Grand View University, making the No. 2 seeded Vikings the first team eliminated from the Final 4.
IWC then emerged from an extra innings battle with Mount Mercy (29-20 overall) in a winner's bracket game between the two teams to win their opening games of the tourney. Ward hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning with the bases loaded to score pinch runner Samantha Shepard
) with what turned out to be the winning run.
The Tigers received terrific pitching by committee, as Jillian Leutscher
) started and went five innings, allowing a run on five hits while striking out one and walking three. Sonya Holmes
(Jr.-West Branch, Iowa
) came on in relief and picked up the win, allowing one hit over two innings while striking out one. Garcia then came on and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the save.
Beaver had two more hits and scored the first run of the game when Garcia singled to score her with two outs in the top of the first inning. Mount Mercy tied the game in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Kayley Hakeman, but the Mustangs had just one more hit the rest of the way after the fourth.
IWC will face either William Penn or Mount Mercy in Game 6 of the tourney at 1:30 p.m., following the Game 5 elimination game between the two teams. All of Sunday's games will be broadcast live online by William Penn University at http://cvp.telvue.com/player?s=wpenn
.Box score IWC 5 WPU 1Box score IWC 2 MMU 1
(8 inn.)MCC Softball Tournament Bracket