Softball nearly perfect on opening weekend

Emma Negrete
Emma Negrete

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Simpson softball team got the 2014 season off to a great start by going 5-1 at the Finlandia Dome Tournament at the Superior Dome on March 1-2.

The Storm won their first five games, beating Concordia (Wis.) 5-0, Finlandia 7-6, Lakeland 8-7 and Mount Mary 15-0 (five innings) on Saturday. They closed the tournament Sunday with a 4-1 win over Marian (Wis.) and a narrow 4-3 loss to UW-Oshkosh.

Simpson hit .330 with three home runs, 11 doubles and four triples as a team. Designated player/pitcher Abbie Van Vleet led the team with a .571 average while center fielder Emma Negrete hit .500 with a team-best 11 hits, including an inside-the-park homer. Left fielder Ashley Prettyman provided the power in the lineup, hitting .409 with two home runs, three doubles and a triple.

The pitching duties were spread out between four players. Sophomore Kaytlyn Ernst went 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA and 16 strikeouts and Van Vleet went 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA, also tallying 16 strikeouts. Freshman Kayleigh Sellner picked up a complete-game win over Mount Mary and transfer Courtney Wagner tossed 1 1/3 innings.

Simpson gets to escape the record-low temperatures in Iowa to bask in the Florida sun for Spring Break when it makes its annual appearance at the Rebel Spring Games in Winter Haven, Fla. Play begins on Friday, March 7 at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Rebel Games Tournament Schedule

Here's a quick look at the highlights from the weekend:

Ernst threw a complete-game, four-hitter while Negrete, Van Vleet and Stacie Brown drove in runs as part of a four-run third that put the game away for the Storm. Negrete and Tori Haag had two hits apiece.

Simpson trailed 6-5 going into the bottom of the seventh before scoring runs on a wild pitch and a fielding error to get the win. Brown went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Van Vleet went the distance in the circle, striking out 10.

Lakeland committed two errors in the top of the seventh, allowing Simpson to score three runs to take an 8-6 lead. Van Vleet drew a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded to score the winning run then closed it out in the circle, earning the save. She finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Negrete went 3-for-4 and Ernst earned the win in relief.

SIMPSON 15, MOUNT MARY 0 (5 innings)
Sellner tossed a one-hitter, struck out eight and got plenty of help from her offense in the rout. Prettyman hit a home run as part of a five-run second and the Storm tacked on eight in the third.

Hillary Harmon's two-RBI double in the sixth gave Simpson a 3-0 cushion and Van Vleet spread out three hits over the final two innings to finish the complete-game effort. Van Vleet and Hailey Jensen had two hits apiece.

Simpson erased a two-run deficit with RBI singles by Negrete and Brown to make it 3-3 in the fifth before Oshkosh plated the eventual winning run on a single in the bottom half of the inning. Negrete had another three-hit game and drove in a run. Ernst struck out six in the loss to fall to 2-1.

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