MOUNT PLEASANT – The Iowa Wesleyan softball team needed two wins against visiting Blackburn College to keep their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament hopes alive, and they did so in stunning fashion. The Tigers came from behind in game one to win 4-3 after eight innings; and followed that up with another come from behind victory, winning game two by a score of 3-2. In addition to the Tiger sweep, Head Coach Mike Hampton earned his 1,300th career victory.
The visiting Beavers of Blackburn College came ready to play and began the scoring in the top of the second inning. Beavers catcher Kennedy Henson singled through the right side, bringing home Halle Fransen.
In the top of the third inning Fransen switched roles as she singled to left field, allowing Haley Shull to come home, and give the visiting Beavers a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
The Tigers would reply in the bottom of the third with McKenzie Copher (SR/Worth, IL) leading off with a single to left field. After two sacrifice outs, Copher advanced to third base. Ashley Machholz (JR/Mediapolis, IA) stepped up to the plate and singled through the right side, bringing Copher home for the RBI and cutting the Blackburn lead to just one.
In the top of the fourth, Morgan Christner (JR/New London, IA) would strike out two Beaver batters, holding the visitors scoreless in the inning. Tiger spirits were up and McKena Woolery (FR/Sedalia, MO) kept the momentum going with a lead-off single. Allison Daum (JR/Victorville, CA) then doubled to right center field and Woolery advanced to third. With two outs, Kayla Ford (JR/Washington, IL) stepped up to plate. Ford connected with a Baylee Hughes pitch and doubled into left center; both Woolery and Daum came across the plate, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead heading into the fifth inning.
Blackburn answered quickly with a Frerichs single to center field, allowing Fransen to come home, bringing the score to 3-3.
At the end of the regulation seven innings, the two teams were still dead-locked at 3-3. Per international softball rules, in extra innings the team at bat begins with a runner on second base. With tension high, the Tigers remained calm and closed out the top of the eighth inning without allowing a run.
Enter the bottom of the eighth inning. Christner starting on second base and Alex Eyman(SO/Lockport, IL) up to bat. Eyman hit a single up the middle and as the Blackburn center fielder made an error making the play, Christner came across the plate, giving the Tigers an exciting 4-3 win.
For the Tigers, Allison Daum went 3 for 3 at the plate. Kayla Ford went 2 for 4 with two RBI’s. Ashley Macholz went 1 for 4 and one RBI, while Alex Eyman also went 1 for 4, getting the game winning RBI.
In the circle, Morgan Christner struck out nine Beaver batters through eight innings earning the win.
Game two started off in similar fashion. Blackburn took an early 1-0 lead after Baylee Hughes homered to left.
There was no quick response from IW however, as both defenses held firm and the score remained 1-0 Blackburn heading into the top of the fourth inning. After Morgan Christnerstruck out three of four batters in the previous inning, the Beavers came out swinging in the top of the fourth. Brooke Daniels grounded out to Ali Daum at short, which allowed Halle Fransen to cross the plate, giving Blackburn a 2-0 lead after four innings of play.
The Tigers refused to give up, and McKenzie Copher started the inning with a lead-off double to right center field. Kayla Ford then singled and would advance to second on the throw, with Copher advancing to third. With two on and two out, Morgan Christner hit a fly ball into left field that was dropped, which allowed both Copher and Ford to score, tying the game at two. With Christner on first, Alex Eyman single through the left side advancing Christner to second. McKena Woolery hit a hard ground ball single that got past the Blackburn shortstop, and Christner hustled in from second to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead after give innings.
Christner struck out two of three in the top of the sixth inning and the Tiger defense backed her up in the top of the seventh to seal the 3-2 victory in game two and an important sweep of the Blackburn Beavers.
Kayla Ford led the offensive charge in game two, going 3 for 3 and scoring one run. Morgan Christner finished the game with two RBI’s and McKena Woolery went 1 for 3, getting the game winning RBI.
Pitching again for the Tigers, Christner struck out 10 Blackburn hitters in game two through seven innings, giving up just three hits. With both wins on the day, Christner finishes regular season play with a 16-3 record.
The Tigers finish the regular season an impressive 26-9 and are now in contention to make the SLIAC Conference Tournament for the first time since joining the conference.
After the second game, Coach Mike Hampton was recognized by his players and the IW fans and community. Today Coach Hampton achieved an impressive career milestone, with his 1,300th career victory. Tiger Athletics would like to congratulate Coach Hampton on this achievement and thank him for his continued passion and dedication to IW Softball and Iowa Wesleyan University.