The Gustavus softball team opened MIAC Tournament play with a wild 10-7 win over Saint Mary’s on Friday afternoon at Hamline, but then lost 3-1 to St. Thomas in a semifinal game at Bethel. Gustavus will now play St. Mary’s in an elimination game on Saturday morning at 11 am at Bethel University in Arden Hills.
In the opener against St. Mary’s, both teams scored twice in the first inning, but the Gusties countered with three more runs in the bottom of the second to take a 5-2 lead. Gustavus used two hits, a walk, and two Cardinal errors to manufacture the three runs. St. Mary’s tied the score at 5-5 with three runs in the top of the fourth, but the Gusties struck right back with four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 9-5 lead. The key hits for Gustavus in the four-run fourth included a two-run home run by Julie Mahre and a ground ball to right by Tina Strauss that drove in Hannah Spitzack and Rachael Click. St. Mary’s added single runs in the fifth and seventh inning, while Gustavus added a run in the bottom of the fifth and the Gusties escaped with a wild 10-7 victory. Joyce DeWitz struggled a bit allowing 10 hits, five earned runs and six walks, but managed to claim the victory. Mahre was 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Erin Ge was 3-for-3 with three runs scored.
In the second game, the St. Thomas scored single runs in the second, fifth, and sixth innings to claim a 3-1 victory. It was the third time this season the Tommies have beaten Gustavus. Julie Mahre accounted for Gustavus’ lone run with a long home run in the top of the sixth inning. Betsie Collins turned in a strong performance on the mound for the Gusties as she scattered nine hits and allowed two earned runs in suffering her first loss of the season (6-1).
Julie Mahre hit two home runs on the day and extended her season total to 11 and her career total to 18. Her single season total of 11 is a new school record and her career total of 18 is the new career mark as she moved past Audrey Lenoch who held the previous record with 16.
The Gusties also tied the school record for wins in a season with 31, which was set last year when the team finished 31-9. Gustavus can break the mark with a win over St. Mary’s in the elimination game. The winner of the Gustavus/St. Mary’s game will get a chance to face St. Thomas for the tournament title. Gustavus or St. Mary’s would need to defeat the Tommies twice to claim the title and earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
All of the games that Gustavus will play on Saturday can be heard by listening to KNUJ 860 AM or by tuning into the Gustavus audio page on the athletics website. Tom Wheeler will call the play-by-play.