Lady Vikings split at NAIA
DECATUR, Ala. -- The Missouri Valley College softball team didn't make it to the final-eight bracket in the NAIA Championships at Decatur, Ala., but ended its season on a winning note.
Since losing back-to-back games to the Lady Vikings and then-third-ranked California Baptist at the Tucson Invitational in March, current No. 3 Dickinson State (N.D.) had reeled off 25 straight wins.
The Blue Hawks weren't about to let Valley upset them again to end the streak, jumping on junior Tatum Hathcock for four runs in the top of the first inning during Friday's second Pool C round.
An error let Dickinson State's lead-off batter reach base, then sophomore Sara Jane Webster doubled. A single by junior Jody Lantz plated two runs, with the rest coming on junior Kyrstin Gemar's two-run homer over the left-field fence -- her eighth of the season.
When the Blue Wave rally continued with an error and single, freshman Janie Jungerman relieved and got out of the jam -- and allowed only one more run in six-plus innings, when junior Kelly Jahn hit an RBI single in the fifth.
However, the damage was already done. Webster limited the Lady Vikings to three hits, two singles and a double by junior Sydney Kaneshiro, and struck out 12 batters to improve her record to 23-2.
Dickinson State (38-3) beat No. 14 Concordia (Calif.), 3-1, to close out pool play and advanced into the championship bracket.
After a one-day delay due to rain, Valley came back Sunday with a 7-4 decision over Northwood (Texas) -- with senior Alana Bentz getting a rare start and the win in her final game.
The Lady Vikings broke out on top with two runs in the top of the first. Junior Edna Gutierrez walked, senior Lindsey Stapp beat out a bunt and both came in on senior Heather Sliger's single.
A bunt single by junior Angelique Meek to begin the bottom of the first led to a run for the Lady Knights on senior Katie Pfannerstill's two-out single.
Northwood surged ahead in the second when junior Chelsea Daniels drew a free pass, swiped a base, went to third on sophomore Melissa Lloyd's single and dashed home on a passed ball. A double by junior Leigh Anne Rainey sent Lloyd to third base, from where she scored on a sacrifice fly.
The lead changed hands again, and for the last time, in the Valley third. Sliger doubled and went to third on senior Kimberly Fuller's single. Kaneshiro tied the game with a sac fly and junior Wendy Garcia singled in the go-ahead run.
Junior Kelly Smith singled and scored on an error and junior Janae Borrego tripled in a run as the Lady Vikings scored twice in the fourth.
Rainey singled in a run in the bottom of the fourth for Northwood (24-31-2), but Jungerman took over in the circle the next inning and threw three shutout frames -- allowing two harmless singles -- for the save.
Valley tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on singles by freshman Cassidy Baggett and Fuller, the former scoring on a grounder.
The Lady Vikings (34-24) wound up third in the four-team pool during their first appearance at the national tournament.