The Gustavus softball team gave its three seniors, Joyce DeWitz, Abby Bernstein, and Tina Strauss, a fitting sendoff by sweeping St. Ben’s 2-1 and 5-1 on Senior Day in St. Peter on Saturday afternoon. The Gusties improved to 18-2 in conference play and assured themselves of a second place finish and the #2 seed in the MIAC Post-Season Tournament.
In game one, St. Ben’s took a 1-0 lead when Jinnie Regli singled home Monica Eiden in the top of the second inning. After Regli’s single, Kendra Zapzelka stroked a hit to centerfield where the Gusties Emily Klein scooped up the ball and fired a strike to Abby Bernstein who tagged out Jillian Rigg who was trying to score from second base. Gustavus pitcher Joyce DeWitz got Shannon Eveland to ground out to Alison Haase at third base for the final out of the inning. The Gusties scored twice in the bottom of the second and that would turn out to be the difference in the game. Senior captain Tina Strauss opened the inning with a double to the fence in right centerfield. Haase then popped out to the pitcher, before Erin Ge doubled to left centerfield scoring Strauss. Julie Mahre then stepped up and ripped a double to deep centerfield which scored Ge from second base. The Blazers threatened in the sixth inning putting runners on second and third base, but could not score. The Gusties would get runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings but could not get a timely hit to score a run. In the seventh inning, DeWitz struck out the side allowing Gustavus to claim the important 2-1 victory. Erin Ge, Tina Strauss, and Julie Mahre led the Gustie offensive attack with two hits each. DeWitz turned in a strong performance on the mound scattering four hits, allowing one earned run, walking two and striking out 11. Monica Eiden turned in a solid performance on the mound for St. Ben’s as she scattered seven hits, allowed two earned runs, did not walk a batter, while striking out four.
In game two, St. Ben’s would once again score its only run of the game in the second inning. Jinnie Regli scored when Gustavus right fielder Kelsie Droogsma misplayed a fly ball by Kendra Zapzalka. Droogsma managed to recover the ball and force out a Blazer runner at second base, however Regli scored on the play. In the bottom of the second, Gustavus tied the score at 1-1 when Emily Klein singled and scored Bernstein who had doubled to open the inning. The Gusties increased their lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Rachael Click scored on a wild pitch. Gustavus added one more run in the fifth inning when Mahre singled scoring Haase, making the score 3-1. The Gusties closed out the scoring in the sixth inning when Emily Klein drove a home run over the right field fence Rachael Click and making the score 5-1. DeWitz picked up the win on the mound as she scattered five hits and struck out seven, while not allowing an earned run. Klein led Gustavus at the plate as she recorded two hits in three at-bats including the two-run home run in the sixth inning.
Gustavus will now close out regular season play with a MIAC doubleheader in Moorhead against Concordia on Tuesday at 4:00 pm. The Gusties will open MIAC Post-Season Tournament play against Saint Mary’s next Friday at Hamline at 3:00 pm. The Gusties are the #2 seed and the Cardinals are the #3 seed. The winner of the Gustavus/Saint Mary’s game will play the winner of the St. Thomas/Hamline game at Bethel at 5 pm. The losers of the opening games will play in an elimination game at Hamline at 5 pm. The double-elimination tournament will conclude on Saturday at Bethel with games at 11 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:00 pm (if necessary). The winner of the MIAC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.