Girvan Pitches Luther to IIAC Title
By Douglas Miles
CEDAR RAPIDS Luther entered the Iowa Conference softball tournament unsure of its NCAA tournament status.
The Norse would lean on their All-American pitcher to remove all doubt.
After dispatching second-seeded Central, 9-3, in the afternoon semifinal with a complete-game performance, Luther's Becca Girvan returned to the circle in the final against top seed Coe.
The junior began the game by retiring 13 straight Kohawk batters, the first five by strikeout, and finished with an 11-strikeout complete game as Luther won the IIAC tournament title for the third time in four years, 5-2, over Coe on Sunday at Clark Field.
"It was a fun game," Girvan said. "I just, going in there, threw the best I could, my team played great defense, and it turned out really well."
Girvan (18-5) received plenty of run support as Luther (28-9) piled up 23 runs in her three tournament wins. The tournament was scaled back to a single-elimination championship due to the poor weather on Thursday and Friday.
After a third-inning RBI single from Elisa Smith broke a scoreless tie, Kelsey Weindruch stepped to the plate and delivered a towering three-run home run to center field off Coe freshman starter Mackenzie Laux (8-4) to give the Norse a 4-0 lead that seemed insurmountable given Girvan's dominance.
Coe's Abby Flannagan had an RBI single in the sixth inning, while Danielle Schlotterbeck was 2-for-3 with her seventh home run this season in the final frame.
With the semifinal win over Central, Girvan became the winningest pitcher in Luther softball history. The win in the final gives her 64 for her career.
"It was just incredible to watch the girls come and know what they wanted to do and know what they had to do," Luther Coach Renae Hartl said. "But they had fun doing it and they didn't put the pressure on themselves that they actually had on themselves."
In the morning semifinal, Coe sophomore Anna Corkery broke a 3-3 tie with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth as the Kohawks eliminated Dubuque, 5-3.
"Just trying to hit a line drive, do my job, get on base, bring around the top of the lineup, and it just happened to go out," said Corkery, who prepped at Iowa City Regina.
Despite the loss in the final, Coe (32-6) is assured a spot in the NCAA tournament, and conference mates Central (28-8) and Simpson (29-10) also are possibilities.The pairings will be announced today, and regional play begins Thursday.
Pella has been selected as one of the eight regional sites, but location doesn't matter to Coe coach Bob Timmons.
"We're just happy that we're going to be in, but we'll go where they tell us to go," Timmons said."We'd just as soon not go to Pella because we play those teams all the time, (we'd) like to play somebody different."