SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri Valley College softball team's season ended Wednesday with a pair of Heart of America Conference losses at Evangel, 12-4 and 3-1.
The Lady Crusaders brought out the big sticks in the opener, banging five home runs -- including two each by senior Chelsea Preaus, who drove in four runs, and junior Sam Clowdus. Freshman Danelle Billings also had a two-run shot for Evangel, which took command with a six-run second inning and ended the game with a run in the fifth.
Freshman Hannah Garczinski hit her team-high sixth homer of the season and knocked in three runs for the Lady Vikings.
Valley took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning of the nightcap on sophomore Melanie McClain's single. However, after throwing four shutout frames, senior Jackie Kragel was touched up for three runs in the fifth as junior Kasey Spencer doubled in two runners and scored on sophomore Marriana Nelson's single.
Freshman Katelyn Tolle allowed only one baserunner in three innings of relief to get the save for the Lady Crusaders (29-11, 14-6 HAAC), who finish second in the league race and host fifth-seeded Baker for a best-of-three series in the first round of the Heart of America Conference Tournament on Friday.
The Lady Vikings (12-23, 7-13) wound up eighth, but didn't make the tourney field -- which was shrunk to the top six teams this season.
Correction: The Heart of America Conference Post-season Tournament remains at eight teams this season, so the Lady Vikings will play the No. 1 seed in a best-of-three series starting Friday at Central Methodist.