Storm softball come up short against No. 4 Luther

by Brock Borgeson

DECORAH, Iowa – The Simpson Softball team has had a tough time getting things going since starting IIAC play, going 1-3 before heading into competition with No. 4 Luther College this weekend.

The Norse kept that trend going, edging No. 22 Simpson 1-0 and 9-6 in a doubleheader in Decorah on Saturday.

Simpson had defeated the 2014 IIAC Tournament Champion Norse in their last four games against one another before Saturday.

Game 1: Luther 1, Simpson 0

Starting pitcher Riley Fisher (9-3) allowed only four hits and one earned run in six innings of work, striking out five on the way although the Storm could only generate four base runners in the 1-0 loss.

Luther (28-1, 8-0) scored their only run in the bottom of the third on a Miranda McCay RBI-single to centerfield, knocking in Anna Strien.

Pitcher Amanda Witzlib (13-1) struck out 10 batters while allowing only two hits and two walks on her way to a complete game shutout.

Catcher Tori Haag got on base twice, going 1-for-2 with a single and a walk.

Game 2: Luther 9, Simpson 6

Both team’s offenses kicked in during game two as the two teams combined for 28 hits, 17 off the Norse bats.

Despite knocking out 11 hits and coming out with a four-run second inning, three Simpson errors and five unearned runs given up to the Norse lead to a 9-6 win for the Norse and a series sweep.

Starter Abbie VanVleet (10-4) lasted only one inning after allowing five hits and three earned runs.

Since starting the season 10-0, VanVleet has lost her last four decisions.

Luther jumped out of the gates scoring all nine of their runs in the first two innings, coming out with five in the bottom half of the first and four in the second.

Taylor Davis and Haag both has RBI singles in the top of the second. Britney Steele also pounded out an RBI-double, one of the two extra base hits on the day for Simpson.

At 5-4 going into the bottom of the second, Luther capitalized on a Steele error to score four more. Strien drove in two on a single and Carli Radil knocked home McCay on a RBI two-bagger.

Simpson pulled with three on a Brianna Chaplin, pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh although it was too-little-too late.

Kaytlyn Ernst and Maggie Long pitched five innings out of the pen for Simpson. Ernst allowed four runs, one earned in 2 1/3 while Long scattered four hits for a scoreless 2 2/3 innings of relief.

The road ahead:

Simpson will get four straight games at home beginning on Wednesday, Apr. 15 against Coe College (17-11, 3-3) and Loras College (14-14, 3-5) on Apr. 18.

Currently Simpson sits in seventh place in the IIAC, one game ahead of 0-8 Wartburg in the win column.

IIAC Standings:

School IIAC Overall

1. Luther (4) 8-0 29-1

2. Central (13) 6-2 25-8

3. Dubuque 5-3 13-15

4. Buena Vista 4-4 13-14

5. Coe 3-3 17-11

6. Loras 3-5 14-14

7. Simpson (22) 1-5 22-8

8. Wartburg 0-8 19-14