2005 Region 11 Champions
MCC earns 2nd trip to softball nationals
by Staff Reports
(reprinted from the Muscatine Journal)
FORT DODGE, Iowa - Everything fell into place perfectly and the result will be a return trip to the Division II Junior College Softball World Series for Muscatine Community College.
After knocking rival Cedar Rapids Kirkwood into the loser's bracket in Sunday's opening game, the Indians got some help from Iowa Lakes, which eliminated the seventh-ranked Eagles in a 5-3, 10-inning thriller.
Muscatine then completed its unbeaten run through the eight-team Region XI tournament field with an 8-0 shutout of the Lakers in the championship game at Harlan Rogers Softball Complex.
"I think we broke Kirkwood's back when we beat them and then Iowa Lakes broke their spirits," said MCC coach Scott Beatty. "Iowa Lakes was upset in the first round and had to come all the way back through the loser's bracket; they just ran out of gas."
The Indians, who qualified for the national tournament for the first time last year, will be returning to Fort Dodge for the Division II World Series May 19-22.
Muscatine won twice on Saturday - a 9-3 opening round win over North Iowa (NIACC) and a 4-1 decision over host Iowa Central, which had upset No. 3 seed Iowa Lakes in the first round - to set up the winner's bracket final with top-seeded Kirkwood on Sunday.
The Indians got a quick start against Kirkwood ace Shea Carpenter when Stephanie Mikulecky drove in a first inning run. The Eagles, however, came right back to score twice off starting MCC hurler Meghan Oden.
But Muscatine regained the lead in the second when Mandy Kerr ripped a two-run double.
After getting Kirkwood out in the second, Oden ran into third-inning trouble. The Eagles loaded the bases and, with two outs, Beatty lifted his ace in favor of Jessica McCarty, who got a ground ball to end the threat.
"Kirkwood had roughed up Meghan the last three times she had faced them, so I decided to change things up by bringing in Jess," said Beatty. "She got out of the jam and then shut them down the rest of the way."
McCarty, a sophomore from Ottumwa who has spent most of her two years here on the injured list, struck out five in earning her eighth win of the season.
After watching Iowa Lakes eliminate Kirkwood, Beatty sent McCarty back to the mound for the championship game. She responded with another gem, limiting the Lakers to three hits while striking out six and walking just one.
She was backed by an 11-hit attack that included six extra base hits.
After scoring twice in the first, Kerr and Ashley Hoffman belted back-to-back home runs in the third and the Indians rolled from there.
"McCarty, wow," said Beatty. "She was terrific. She's a bulldog; once she gets the lead, she smells a win. The wind was blowing out, and Jess is a down pitcher (throws a lot of drop balls); she was spotting her pitches perfectly.
"With everything that Jess has gone through the last two years, you couldn't ask for a better scenario."
Muscatine pounded out 14 hits in romping to the 9-3 decision over NIACC. Kerr, Margaret Lear and Jessica Ball each had three hits. Kerr and Sarah Manning each hit home runs and combined for seven RBI.
Oden was outstanding in the 4-1 win over Iowa Central. The sophomore from Centerville struck out 10 and allowed just four hits. Lear had RBI hits in the second and third innings to lead the offense.
"Lear had a phenomenal weekend," said Beatty. "We had keyed on the Nos. 4 (Mikulecky) and 7 (Lear) spots in the order as keys and they both came through great.
"We had good contributions up and down the lineup."
Muscatine will take a 52-10 record and a No. 10 national ranking into the tournament next week. The pairings will be announced after the 12 regionals have been completed.
2004 Region 11 Champions
By Roger Bates
Iowa - Mothers of Muscatine Community College softball players couldn't have received a better Mother's Day present than the one their daughters gave them on Sunday.
The Indians, fighting their way back through the loser's bracket, defeated Cedar Rapids Kirkwood in back-to-back 1-0 nailbiters to earn the school's first-ever trip to the Division II national tournament, starting Wednesday, May 19, in Fort Dodge.
"This is seven years in the making; I just can't believe the character of this team," MCC coach Scott Beatty said while clutching the championship plaque that has eluded his grasp over seven frustrating seasons.
After Ann Sievert raced home from second base on an RBI single by Margaret Lear with one out in the seventh inning, MCC pitching ace Janet Barker still faced the daunting task of retiring the Eagles in the bottom of the seventh.
A dropped fly on a wind blown ball behind first base put Kirkwood's leadoff batter aboard. After twice failing to sacrifice, Jeni Streb hit a high chopper to third that advanced the runner to second.
Andrea Swanson worked Barker for a walk, but Erin Thimmesch's grounder to deep short turned into a force at third - shortstop Stephanie Mikulecky's only play.
Barker, who came into the tournament with 271 strikeouts in 181 innings, caught pinch hitter Erika Rockwell looking to set off a wild celebration in the middle of Kirkwood's diamond.
"Meghan (Oden) did a great job of giving us another chance," said Barker. "I just told myself that they weren't beating me this time.
"I don't mind pressure situations, in fact, I kind of like games like this. This is a wonderful feeling."
Kirkwood knocked the fifth-ranked Indians (52-7) into the loser's bracket with a 2-1, 10-inning dandy in the winner's bracket finals.
After eight scoreless innings, Kirkwood pushed a run across against Barker in the ninth on a two-out error. Muscatine, however, came right back to tie it and was within a pitch of the win.
A single by pinch hitter Meghan Oden, Mandy Kerr's double and a walk to Mikulecky filled the bases with one out. Andrea LaRue ripped a game-tying single past third. Then, after going
3-0 on Teresa Pingel, winning pitcher Shae Carpenter, came back to get a pop fly and a line drive to send the game into the 10th.
The Eagles won it on Cari Kinzenbaw's single, a stolen base and Brandi Sargent's sharp single to right. Muscatine went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th.
With their backs to the wall, MCC drubbed Southwestern 8-0 in the loser's bracket finals. Oden and Brooke Uetz combined on a three-hitter and the Indians scored seven times in the fifth inning, including a grand slam by Pingel.
Oden, who was lifted after four shutout innings against Southwestern, got the nod in the first championship game against Kirkwood and she responded with a gem.
"For a freshman coming into a situation like that, she should have been scared to death," said Beatty, "but she stepped up and threw the game of her life.
"That was the coming of age of a freshman, and that was exciting to see."
The Centerville native allowed the nation's eighth-ranked team just two hits - back-to-back singles by Sargent and Streb - in the second inning.
She got a strikeout and a grounder to short to get out of the jam and then set the Eagles down in order over the final five innings. She struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter.
"It's kind of funny because in high school I'd get so nervous before a game, but today I wasn't nervous a bit out there," said Oden.
"I just told myself to go out there, relax and have fun. The only thing I wanted to do was not leave anything out over the plate and make sure my curve was far enough out that they couldn't drive it."
MCC got the winning run when Lear, after bunting into a force out at second, stole second and scored on Mandy Kerr's double to left.
"I hadn't had a hit all day, but timing is everything," said Lear after scoring the game-winner in one game and driving in the winner in the other.
"This is as exciting, if not more exciting, as when we went to state in high school. It's going to be fun going back to Fort Dodge."
MCC 3, Marshalltown 0
Ann Sievert's first career home run sparked Muscatine's 3-0 shutout win over Marshalltown. Sievert's blast to left field came following a two-out walk to Janet Barker in the second inning.
The Indians added an insurance run when Tiffany Ledvina, who had two of Muscatine's seven hits, singled leading off. After Margaret Lear's sacrifice bunt, Mandy Kerr doubled home the run.
Barker, who led the region in wins and strikeouts, held Marshalltown (15-32) to two hits and struck out 17. The only hits she allowed were a bunt single by Adriane Young in the third and a double by Dani Madison in the sixth. She walked four in the game.
MCC 6, Southwestern 0
Muscatine got another early home run in leading the way into the championship of the winner's bracket with a 6-0 win over Southwestern.
After scoring a single run in the second on Janet Barker's RBI single, MCC got a two-out walk to Mandy Kerr and Stephanie Mikulecky's long home run to left.
The Indians broke the game open in the sixth against Southwestern reliever Erin Hudek. Following back-to-back walks to Megan Foor and Barker to open the inning, Ann Sievert beat out an infield hit. Both runners came around to score when the throw was wild past first. Tiffany Ledvina's grounder to short brought in Sievert.
Meghan Oden picked up the pitching win, striking out 12 while walking two and giving up just two hits.