Coach Ron Faubion’s LadyStorm softballers used the first day of spring break to sweep Minnesota-Duluth and run the winning streak to 11 games.
Southeastern posted 3-2 (8 innings) and 5-3 wins over the Lady Bulldogs to make the season record 20-7. The storm will return to Great American Conference action Tuesday, March 25, when East Central comes to town for a doubleheader.
Little things mean a lot and the LadyStorm took full advantage of several of them, along with big things like Laramie Beal’s solo walkoff homer in the bottom of the eighth in game one and Jacee Bennett’s 8-inning complete game in the opener and 1.2 innings of relief in the nightcap that gave her a win and a save on the day. Darrian Williams ran down a long drive to left field, making the catch going away, to stifle a 7th-inning rally in game two.
Little things included Jessica Simmons stealing second and third and scoring on a throwing error. Darrian Williams went full count to draw a walk that led to the tying run in the first game and set the stage for Beal’s heroics.
Lacie Cook was two for two and collected half of SE’s hits in the nightcap with a bunt single driving in a run.
Coach Faubion said, “These were two good wins against a very good team. Jacee pitched really well with a win and a save and 13 strikeouts. Mindy (McElroy) threw well with the exception of a home run in the sixth inning of game two. A throwing error hurt her and Jacee came back in to shut it down.
“Lacie had a big single for us and also drove in two runs. Darrian had a great catch in left field. Sydney Kramer was three for four in the first game.
“You always hate to have a break when you’re playing well, but our kids need this break. We’ve been pushing and everybody’s tired. We just have to come back and pick up where we left off.”
Bennett allowed a leadoff walk, struck out the next two, then gave up a two-run homer to Jordan Rice, her sixth of the year, then blanked the Lady Bulldogs over the next seven innings.
The Storm answered with a single run in the fourth. Haley Strawn drew a two-out walk, Arianna (A.J.) Jones singled, McElroy walked and pinch-hitter Lauren Renneker was hit by a a pitch to drive in a run.
The tying run came in the seventh. Williams had a great at-bat before drawing a walk to start it. Pinch-hitter Whitney Hamilton hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Williams at second. Simmons singled up the middle and Cook fouled off three pitches before singling over the bag at third to drive in the tying run in the seventh.
The Lady Bulldogs stranded a pair in the top of the eighth before Beal launched the first pitch she saw over the left-center fence to end the game and give the Storm a 3-2 victory.
Bennett pitched the full eight innings, allowed two unearned runs on five hits, walked three, struck out 11 and boosted her record to 7-2.
A.J. was two for two and Kramer three for four to lead the Storm. Simmons was one for three, Cook and Beal one for four each.
Beal’s sixth home run ended the game and gave Southeastern three game-ending homers in the last four contests.
Rice led UM-D with two for four, a homer and two RBIs.
An RBI-double by Rice game the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 edge in the top of the first.
SE answered in the bottom half when Simmons walked, stole second, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the pitcher.
There was no more scoring until the Storm chased in four runs in the fifth.
McElroy walked, Williams was hit by a pitch, Renneker walked, Simmons hit into a fielder’s choice that nipped a runner at the plate, Cook’s bunt hit drove in a run, Kramer hit into a fielder’s choice, Beal’s grounder to short was bobbled to let Simmons score and Strawn drove in two with a single to right.
Bennett returned to the circle in the sixth with two runs in, bases loaded and one out. The righthander needed only 10 pitches to strike out the next two hitters, end the rally and the scoring for the game.
McElroy pitched 5.1 innings, gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits, walked none, struck out three and improved to 10-3.
Bennett earned her fifth save with 1.2 innings of work. She allowed one hit and struck out three.
Cook sparked the Storm with two for two, a run scored and a run batted in. McElroy was one for one and Strawn one for three.
Megan Mullen and Rice were two for four each for UM-D.