After falling in heartbreaking fashion, 3-2, in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader against visiting Loras College, the Buena Vista softball team rallied late in the nightcap to edge the Duhawks, 4-3, and earn the sixth and final spot into next week’s Iowa Conference Tournament.
BVU broke a scoreless game in the fourth with a sacrifice fly from junior Sam Engleman and a run-scoring double from sophomore Sam Knudsen to build a 2-0 lead.
That’s the way the game stood until the seventh when Loras, which had been held to five hits through six innings, blasted back-to-back solo home runs to start the inning and tie the score before later getting a two-out double to left to take its first lead of the game.
The Beavers tried to rally in the bottom half, but the Duhakws worked around a one-out walk to secure the win.
Sophomores Stephanie Hayden and Jessica Stocker each tallied two hits for BVU with Stocker and Brooke Berkey scoring the two runs.
Freshman Jenna Falline went the distance on the mound, scattering nine hits and striking out four.
The Duhakws kept the long ball momentum going to start the finale, getting a two-run blast to left in the first to grab the early 2-0 lead.
After scattering three hits in the opening frame, freshman Faith Schmidt, settled into a groove and surrendered just one hit the rest of the way.
BVU was held hitless until the fourth, and that’s when the tide began to slowly turn in the Beavers way. Berkey led off the inning with a double just inside the left field line and out of the reach of sliding left fielder. A sacrifice bunt from senior Jessy Bibler advanced Berkey to third before Stocker lined a sacrifice fly to right.
Hayden came through with a run-scoring single in the fifth to tie things up at 2-2. BVU threatened to score more, but Stocker’s hard hit comebacker was snagged by the pitcher, stranding the bases loaded.
After a pair of strikeouts to start the sixth, Loras turned to the long ball yet again, lifting a ball just over the left field fence to regain the lead at 3-2.
The Beavers, however, weren’t going to let the game end in heartbreaking fashion again, and rallied in the bottom half with two runs over their own to take their first lead of the contest at 4-3. Engleman was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from pinch hitter Mikaela Millslagle. Sophomore Jordon Pilcher then reached on a throwing error and moved to second after a rundown also put Engleman to third.
Junior Britney Kubik lined a single to left to score the tying run, and then got into a run-down of her own which eventually scored Pilcher who had advanced to third on the hit.
Schmidt, who chalked up a career-high eight strikeouts in the contest, calmly shut the Duhakws down in order in the seventh, including a game-ending pop up to second.
Berkey went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored with Pilcher adding a hit and scoring twice.
The win secures BVU its second-straight trip into the Iowa Conference Tournament, something it hasn’t done since the postseason event was started back up in 2006.
The tournament runs from May 2-4 and will be hosted by top-seed Coe College, which won the tiebreaker over co-champion Central College for the top spot. The Beavers will face third-seed Luther College on Thursday at 12:00pm.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.