Southwestern softball faced a tough foe Saturday afternoon, dropping game one 15-0 and game two 11-3 of its doubleheader against a tough North Iowa Area team that entered the weekend winners of four of its last five games.
Entering Saturday the Trojans, ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA Div. II rankings, were one game behind the leader (Des Moines Area) in ICCAC play.
Knowing NIACC was going to be a challenge at the plate, head coach Nick Weinmeister told his pitchers to go right after each hitter and attack the strike zone each at bat, expecting Trojan batters to be ready to hit early in the count.
“(We told them) to be just as aggressive and go right after them and see if we can take them,” said Weinmeister. “... I think our pitchers overall knew we had a tough task at hand, but they did a good job.”
A first inning error plated a run for the Trojans against Spartans ace Kelsey Tibbs, leaving the Spartans to play catch up before they faced a pitch on offense.
Southwestern couldn’t get anything in to score in the first two innings, going down in order.
The Trojans’ offense came alive in the third inning with a Kaci Sherwood two-run homer to left center and continued in the fifth on a two-run double by Hailee Ausenhus. A Trojan sacrifice fly made it 6-0 at the end of the fifth inning.
The powerful offense continued to find its way on base, driving the ball through infield holes and advancing into scoring position as the Spartans threw it around the field.
A NIACC a team hitting .307 and slugging .503 entering the doubleheader continued to pour it on until its final at-bats in the sixth inning.
A liner off of Tibbs in the sixth prompted a mound visit to check in on Southwestern’s ace. Fortunately for the Spartans, Tibbs felt good enough to stay in the game.
“I told her to take her time,” said Weinmeister about his meeting with Tibbs after taking a comebacker off her thigh. “If she needed to take a couple extra (warm up) pitches then that was fine. The biggest thing was that she has to know that’s going to happen. ... To see her tough it out and go back out there and continue throwing I think was good for her.”
Tibbs pitched all six innings of game one, striking out three.
After the comebacker, the Trojans were able to get a complete cycle through the order to push the score to 15-0.
The big inning gave the Spartans last at-bats to try and escape the run-rule.
SWCC remained silent at the plate as Kristen Peka dealt her way to a perfect game, striking out 11 Southwestern batters.
The Spartans had similar struggles in game two as Weinmeister expected the Trojans to be equally as hungry to take the extra base in the ladder game.
“(I expected) a lot of the same approach. Really aggressive on the basepaths, aggressive at the plate,” said Weinmeister. “The biggest thing for us was to be able to put the ball in play and see a little bit more of their defense have to make plays, which we did, but not to the extent that we would have liked.”
SWCC put together enough at the plate to plate their first runs on a lead-off triple from Klarissa McElroy and a sacrifice fly from Kaitlyn Schad that scored a run.
The run pulled the differential to 3-1 in the first inning, the closest the Spartans had to the lead in the game.
An RBI single from Meghan Gould and a single from McElroy in the second inning made it 9-3, but the Trojans again found all the holes in the Spartans defense again as they ran up the score to 11-3 on six-straight runs after recording only one out.
After the three runs in the first two innings, only one Spartan made it to third base – Danielle De La fuente in the final frame. She was stranded at third base to end game two with Lindsay Rader opposite her at first.
Fort Dodge Woes
FORT DODGE – SWCC traveled to Fort Dodge Sunday, falling to No. 9 Iowa Central by scores of 11-1 and 17-3.
Spartans struggled early on, giving up a three spot in the first inning on another defensive miscue.
Weinmeister was critical of his ace Tibbs Sunday, saying that it was an inconsistent afternoon for her in the pitching circle.
“She had a real bad inning that elevated the score. ... She was not real sharp with her location today (Sunday) and they came out swinging and put quite a few hits together,” said Weinmeister. “... The biggest thing for her today may have been catching too much of the plate when she fell behind.”
Iowa Central’s left handed starter Alex Boyce kept the Spartans off balance through game one, incorporating a changeup that made for not the best day at the plate for the SWCC hitters.
Defensive miscues and throwing errors led to the Tritons putting pressure on the Spartans early, leading to the Tritons’ ability to build a large lead early in game one, said Weinmeister.
In game two the Spartans rolled with a slightly different lineup on the mound, going with Heather Jessen as the game two starter.
The game was even through the first two innings with the Spartans able to get on the board by a home run from Ali Enright, but suffered from the big inning that has been frequent for the Spartans this season.
A seven-run inning in the third extended the lead to 10-2 in the third inning, and another seven-run inning pushed the score to 17-2 in the fourth.
“Our outfield play was just not sharp at all,” said Weinmeister. “Just too many mistakes in dropping easy fly balls. ... That hurt us.”
The Spartans got their lone runs on a two-run homer in the third inning from Enright, driving in Schad.
“We did a much better job at making adjustments in that second game,” said Weinmeister on the team’s approach at the plate. “Our hit totals went up and did a good job in hitting, but the game was out of hand.”
UP NEXT – SWCC faces Kansas City Kansas Community College, playing two. The doubleheader starts at 2 p.m. at home Tuesday.
NIACC 15, SWCC 0
R H E
NIACC 102 039 — 15 13 0
SWCC 000 000 — 0 0 5
NIACC: Kristen Peka 6IP 11K. SWCC: Kelsey Tibbs 6IP 3K 5BB. W — Peka. L - Tibbs. HR — NIACC: Kaci Sherwood. 3B — none. 2B – NIACC: Alyssa Laxson. RBI – NIACC: Hailee Ausenhus (3), Sherwood (2), Ciana Sonberg (2), Hannah Faktor (2), Peka (2), Morgan Kelley (2). Stolen bases – NIACC: Sherwood (2), Tayler Schmidt, Kelley. Mutliple hits – NIACC: Faktor (3), Peka (3), Schmidt (2), Kelley (2).
NIACC 11, SWCC 3
R H E
NIACC 360 20 — 11 12 0
SWCC 120 00 — 3 6 5
NIACC: Kylie Sherwood 5IP 6K 2BB 2HBP. SWCC: Ali Enright 3IP 3K, Ella Rutherford 2IP 1BB. W — Sherwood. L - Enright. HR — none. 3B — SWCC: Klarissa McElroy. 2B – NIACC: Faktor, Peka. RBI – NIACC: Sherwood (3), Marissa Norby (2), Laxson, Peka, Schmidt, Callie McQuown. SWCC: Kaitlyn Schad, Megan Gould, McElroy. Stolen bases – NIACC: Schmidt (4), Reams, Faktor, Carlson. Multiple hits – NIACC: Sherwood (3), Schmidt (2), Faktor (2). SWCC: McElroy (2).
ICCC 11, SWCC 1
R H E
SWCC 010 00 — 1 2 0
ICCC 315 0X — 11 12 1
ICCC: Alex Boyce 4IP 3K, McKenzie Capesius 1IP. SWCC: Kelsey Tibbs 3IP 1K, Meghan Gould 1IP. W — Boyce. L - Tibbs. HR — ICCC: Payton Andersen. 3B — none. 2B – ICCC: Sophia Cave (2), Cheyenne Andersen, Payton Andersen, Jenna Peschel. RBI – ICCC: Payton Andersen (4), Cheyenne Andersen, Gabrielle Bingham, Payton Adwell, Sidney Marker, Peschel. SWCC: Klarissa McElroy. Stolen bases – SWCC: Kaitlyn Schad. Multiple hits – ICCC: Payton Andersen, Bingham, Peschel, Cave.
ICCC 17, SWCC 3
R H E
SWCC 002 01 — 2 4 0
ICCC 307 7X — 17 11 0
NIACC: Breanna Small 4IP, Erin Bahrenfuss 1IP . SWCC: Heather Jessen 3IP 2BB, Kelsey Tibbs 2IP. W — Small. L - Jessen. HR — ICCC: Breanna Tjebben (2), Alexis Morrison, Payton Andersen. 3B — none. 2B – NIACC: Bingham (2), Peschel, Cave. SWCC: Schad. RBI – ICCC: Tjebben (4), Payton Andersen (3), Morrison (3), Parker Matthews, Bingham. SWCC: Enright (2), Hannah Perez. Stolen bases – ICCC: Bingham. Multiple hits – ICCC: Bingham (4), Payton Andersen (3), Tjebben (2), Lauren James (2).