OLATHE, Kan. -- It wouldn't be fair to call the 23rd-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene University softball squad a one-woman team.
However, the Lady Pioneers have one player who can do it all -- and did Tuesday against visiting Missouri Valley. Senior Jen Costa, who leads the Heart of America Conference in both batting and earned-run average, drove in four runs on four hits -- including her 24th homer of the season to top the NAIA charts -- and tossed a two-hit shutout during MidAmerica's sweep, 5-0 and 10-2.
Costa got the Lady Pioneers off to a good start by doubling in a run in the top of the first inning, Valley the nominal home team due to a last-minute change of venue to a drier field. Until Costa went yard to lead off the sixth inning, junior Janie Jungermann nearly matched her from the Lady Vikings' mound.
Valley didn't have a baserunner until Jungermann drew a two-out walk in the fourth, the first hit coming on sophomore Melanie McClain singled with two outs in the fifth.
MidAmerica put the game on ice with three runs in the seventh, senior Taylor Ryal stroking a two-run double and scoring on an error.
Costa struck out 11 batters while picking up her 12th win of the season, but was tied for the team lead the next game by freshman Kayla Harris -- who allowed only one earned run before being lifted in the fifth.
The Lady Vikings took a lead in the nightcap with a second-inning run as junior Amanda Turner singled and came around on an error. Freshman Lynsey Keith singled to tie the game in the Lady Pioneers' fourth.
A four-run fifth put MidAmerica in front for good. An error, singles by Costa and senior Emily True, and a grounder plated the runs.
Junior Marisol Espinoza singled and came in on senior Jacqulynne Valli's double in the bottom of the fifth to reduce Valley's deficit to three runs, but the Lady Pioneers' relievers allowed only one hit during the final two frames.
MidAmerica (33-10, 15-5 HAAC) closed with a five-run seventh on three walks, two wild pitches, an error and three hits -- including a double by Costa, who leads the nation in homers and RBIs per game and slugging percentage.
The Lady Vikings (12-21, 7-11), who will finish eighth in the league standings, close out the regular season today at Evangel.