INDIANOLA, Iowa – Abbie Van Vleet had another impressive outing the circle in game one as the Simpson softball team came away with a doubleheader split against UW-Eau Claire on Saturday at Simpson Softball Complex.
Van Vleet went the distance as the Storm (13-9) cruised to a 5-1 win in the opener. The Blugolds (11-5) struck early in game two, putting up four in the second inning on the way to a 6-3 win.
Senior third baseman Hillary Harmon finished the doubleheader with nine assists, making her the program's career leader with 278. She surpassed the 276 tallied by Keri Sorensen from 2009-2012.
Game 1: Simpson 5, Eau Claire 1
With the help of a stingy defense that recorded two outfield assists, Van Vleet rolled through the Blugold lineup allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out five.
Van Vleet got out of trouble in the first thanks Ashley Prettyman. With runners on second and third, the leftfielder gunned down Nikki Brooks at the plate after she tried to tag from third on a fly ball. Emma Negrete showed off her arm in the sixth when Taylor Pierce tried to score from second on a single to center. The junior fired a strike to catcher Tori Haag, who blocked the plate perfectly and applied a solid tag.
Kylie Van Houten singled in a run and Haag scored on a wild pitch in the first to give Van Vleet some cushion. Britney Steele scored a run in the second and drove in another on a ground ball in the sixth and Stacie Brown tripled and scored, also in the sixth.
Haag and Van Houten finished with two hits apiece and Van Vleet moved to 7-1 on the year.
Game 2: Eau Claire 6, Simpson 3
Back-to-back, two-RBI singles by Brooks and Amanda Fischer in the second inning proved too much for Simpson to overcome.
Eau Claire built a 4-0 lead with the big inning, but Simpson pulled within 4-3 after Van Vleet brought in two on a single in the second and pinch-runner Morgan Ryan scored on a throwing error in the third.
Kenzie Winning gave the Blugolds some breathing room with an RBI single in the fifth and Casey Arnold put it out of reach with a solo homer in the seventh. In the circle, Laura Raflik held Simpson to just one hit in the final four innings to get the complete-game win.
Kaytlyn Ernst (5-6) was saddled with loss, giving up six earned in six innings. Haag finished with two hits, giving her four on the day.
Simpson gets the conference schedule underway Tuesday, April 1 at Wartburg. The Knights were 15-3 entering play Saturday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.