Two weekend doubleheader splits leave the Southwestern softball team lodged in a third-place conference tie with Marshalltown Community College at 9-7 each.
Eighth-ranked DMACC (16-0) and No. 6 Kirkwood (14-0) have locked up the first two seeds for regional tournament play, but the Spartans (16-10 overall) enter this week with several opportunities to take a tighter grip on the third position.
With playing conditions difficult at Marshalltown Friday, the Tigers returned to Creston for a second time to complete the league matchups. Marshalltown, now 14-16 overall, saw the Spartans take control with a 13-run first inning in a 17-3 opening game victory.
Marshalltown turned the tide by winning the second game, 9-3. Courtney Wagner again pitched both games for SWCC as Leah Kipfer waited for a sprained ankle to heal.
“We wasted all of our hits early on Friday,” said SWCC coach Lindsay Stumpff.
Dominique Tolle drove in four runs with a pair of hit in the opener, and Ashley Strong had a big game with a double, two singles and three RBI. Ashley Brandt was on the bases constantly again, going 4-5 with three runs and a double.
Wagner picked up the win with four hits allowed in five innings, four strikeouts and two walks.
She yielded 12 hits and eight earned runs in the nightcap, with four walks and four strikeouts. Brandt led the offense with three hits and two runs. Brooke Wolf stayed hot with a double, single and RBI. Danyielle Barger was 2-4.
Marshalltown’s Jacklyn Bear of East Union played two innings of first base for the Tigers, going 0-1 at the plate.
Saturday’s doubleheader at NIACC was postponed until May 1 because of unplayable conditions.
Kipfer gave her tender left (landing) ankle a try Sunday in a doubleheader at Ellsworth. She left after five innings with the Spartans trailing 1-0. Ellsworth went on to win that contest, 5-3, after the Spartans claimed the opener, 4-2
Ellsworth is now 4-12 in the league and 8-19 overall.
“The girls know we shouldn’t be splitting with some of these teams,” Stumpff said, “but it could be worse, having only one pitcher for the last week.”
Wagner, pitching her fifth game in the last six Spartan outings, scattered five hits in seven innings with no earned runs allowed. She walked four and struck out four. Tessa Otto was 2-3 at the plate with two RBI and a double. Brandt scored three runs on three hits. Tolle went 2-3 with an RBI.
Kipfer was effective in her five innings, allowing only an unearned run on two hits, no walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Wagner was touched for four runs on four hits with three walks in one inning.
Otto followed up with another good game. The sophomore from Murray had a double, single and drove in two runs.
The worst forecast for this week happens to be Tuesday, when the Spartans are scheduled to play a makeup doubleheader at Fort Dodge against Iowa Central, last in the league at 2-14.
On Wednesday, league leader DMACC, including shortstop Katlin Briley of Creston, visits SWCC at 3 p.m. for two games. The busy week continues with games against William Penn on Friday, Saturday at Iowa Lakes and 34-3 Kirkwood here on Sunday.