The Lady Statesmen (34-14, 15-6 MCC) defeated Midwest Collegiate Conference foe Viterbo by scores of 3-1 and 2-1. The wins helped William Penn secure the league's regular season title, holding off Grand View (15-7) by one-half game.
The team now remains at home this weekend to host #6 seed Ashford and #9 seed Clarke in one of the three double-elimination MCC Tournament First Round pods. Grand View and Waldorf host the other two pods in Des Moines and Forest City, respectively.
William Penn's first game on Saturday will be at 5 p.m. against the winner of Ashford vs. Clarke (2 p.m. start).
The three pod winners and the next highest seed then advance to next weekend's MCC Tournament Final Round. Since it is the highest seed overall, no matter the outcome of this weekend, William Penn is assured of playing in Des Moines (campus of Drake University) next weekend.MCC Softball Pod Brackets
It is the program's fifth MCC championship since joining in 2002 and the first since 2009. It was not void of drama however.
Despite the close score, the home team was in control in the opener. The team scored the game's initial run in the second on a single by Andrea Rensberger
(Sr., Sioux City, Sioux City North HS) to plate Brittany Labbe
(So., Northridge, Calif., Chaminade HS).
Labbe doubled the Lady Statesmen advantage in the third on a single that scored Molly Miller
(So., Kalona, Mid-Prairie HS).
The final William Penn run was tallied two frames later as Ashley Nieto
(Jr., Cement City, Mich., Jackson CC) came around on a double by Miller.
The team's leadoff batter reached base in all three scoring innings.
Nieto, Miller and, Labbe all posted 2-for-3 showings as the Lady Statesmen held an 8-4 edge in base knocks.
The offensive support was more than plenty for Jennifer Whitehead
(Fr., Oskaloosa, Oskaloosa HS), whose shutout bid was only ruined by a final-inning solo home run. The freshman allowed one run (earned) on four hits, while striking out six (one walk).
Runs were scarce in the nightcap as well. William Penn finally broke the scoreless tie in the fourth, beginning with a leadoff walk by Brittni Reyes
(Jr., Vacaville, Calif., Solano CC).
The junior was then sacrificed to second base and two batters later, Nieto picked up an RBI by bringing her home with a single.
The V-Hawks answered back in the sixth to knot the contest at 1-1, but the Lady Statesmen would not be denied another MCC crown, especially on Rensberger's Senior Day.
After one out was recorded in the bottom of the seventh, Brianne Rowley
(Jr., Hood River, Ore., Blue Mountain CC) started the winning rally with a double into the right-center gap. She was then replaced on the pads by Picariello, one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player on the team.
The pinchrunning decision paid off in spades as Ashley Stream
(Jr., Chariton, Chariton HS) singled up the middle. Picariello rounded third base swiftly, but conversely, the Viterbo centerfielder collected the ball quickly, making for a play at the plate.
Although the throw from the grass was a good one, the speedy Picariello slid around the catcher, who was blocking the plate well, and landed her hand on home plate before the tag was applied.
William Penn outhit Viterbo 9-4, headlined by two-hit showings from Nieto, Miller, and Rowley.Amber Daly
(Jr., Napa, Calif., Solano CC) pitched well, but was replaced by Whitehead for the final inning. The junior gave up one run (unearned) on four hits. She struck out five against one walk and did not figure into the decision.
Whitehead struck out one batter in a perfect seventh frame to move to 20-7 this spring.
"I have never been more proud of a group of young ladies than this bunch," Lady Statesmen Head Coach Mike Christner
said. "They fought hard through some adversities and have earned everything they have gotten so far this year."