Amber Daly kept her squad close against Grand View with 4 1/3 strong innings
Ames--The Lady Statesmen softball team began the Midwest Collegiate Conference Final Four Tournament Saturday with less than desirable results, forcing it to now fight from the consolation side to qualify for nationals.
Top-seeded William Penn (43-16) lost its first game to #4 seed Iowa Wesleyan 5-1, but rebounded to stay alive with an 8-6 victory over #2 Grand View. Iowa Wesleyan then dropped #3 Mount Mercy in the winner's bracket game, forcing the Mustangs to play the Lady Statesmen in an elimination game Sunday at 11 a.m.
The winner of the William Penn/Mount Mercy game will face Iowa Wesleyan in the finals, but will need to defeat them twice for the crown.
The Tigers, who are the defending MCC Tournament champions, got on the board first with a run in the top of the second.
William Penn answered right back asAshley Stream (Sr., Chariton, Chariton HS) blasted a solo shot over the right-center fence for her fourth home run of the season.
While both teams had chances in the latter frames, including the navy and gold putting two on in the fourth and sixth innings, the final four runs all belonged to the Tigers (26-33). Iowa Wesleyan scored once in the fourth and three more times in the seventh to move forward on the winner's side.
The higher seed was outhit 9-5 with Stream providing two of those base knocks. MCC Player of the Year Khyia Lewis (Sr., Ottumwa, Ottumwa HS) did not have a hit, but she did break the program's single-season record by drawing her 30th walk.
Jennifer Whitehead (So., Oskaloosa, Oskaloosa HS) fell to 21-10 with her five-strikeout showing. The MCC Pitcher of the Year walked three in the complete game setback.
William Penn's negative momentum continued into its consolation contest versus the Vikings (31-10) with Grand View scoring four times in the bottom of the first to chase starting pitcher Nicole Danna (Jr., Boone, Iowa Central CC) out of the circle.
Amber Daly (Sr., Napa, Calif., Solano CC) entered in the first and was sharp, allowing just two runs (none earned) on four hits in 4 1/3 frames. She struck out one to improve to 10-2.
Daly's teammates picked up their games as well, cutting the deficit in half with two runs in the second. Christine Gamble (Sr., Pahrump, Nev., Pahrump Valley HS) matched Stream with her own solo home run (her second of 2012), while Molly Miller (Jr., Kalona, Mid-Prairie HS) singled in Mikayla Djordjevic (Fr., Las Vegas, Nev., Northwest Career and Tech Academy).
The Lady Statesmen offense finally clicked on all cylinders in the fourth, scoring six times on seven hits and helped by two Viking errors.
Pinchrunner Brailey Freed (Jr., Loveland, Colo., Otero CC) began the scoring by coming home on a single by Ashlee Dennis (Fr., Loveland, Colo., Mountain View HS). Miller then doubled in both Dennis and pinchrunner Mariah Trujillo (Fr., Arvada, Colo., Arvada HS) to give William Penn its first lead of the day.
Miller later rounded the bases on an error, while Stream singled in both Lewis and Brianne Rowley (Sr., Hood River, Ore., Blue Mountain CC) to cap the tallies.
The Vikings gave William Penn a mighty scare by recording two runs in the fifth to make it 8-6. They then managed to put the tying run on first in the seventh. Whitehead, who relieved Daly in the fifth, fortunately got the final two batters to strike out and ground out to end the game. The sophomore struck out two (one walk) in 2 1/3 innings of shutout play (three hits).
The Lady Statesmen owned a slight 12-11 edge hits, including two by Dennis, Miller, Rowley, Gamble, and Djordjevic.