INDIANOLA, Iowa - Playing with a heavily bandaged left brow from an injury sustained in practice Monday, Tori Haag had the best day of her young career as Simpson swept Wartburg 12-3 (5 innings) and 10-9 (9 innings) on Tuesday night.
With her playing status in question going into the day, Haag lobbied for her spot in the lineup with head coach Henry Christowski. Rather than play her usual catcher position - which was out of the question due to the injury - she suggested playing the outfield instead. Christowski went with the idea, putting Haag in right field and moving right fielder Stacie Brown behind home plate.
The switch paid off for the Hall of Famer.
Haag went a combined 7-for-9 with a home run, three doubles and seven RBIs on the day, including a 4-for-5, five RBI performance in a thrilling nightcap. The sophomore hit the game-tying, two-run homer in the sixth and broke an 8-8 tie with a two-RBI double in the ninth.
Abbie Van Vleet - who earned the complete game win in the opener - picked up the win in relief in game two, holding a hot-hitting Wartburg club to three runs on six hits in the final five innings.
Van Vleet did her part at the plate as well, hitting a grand slam in the third inning of game one to help the Storm (15-9, 2-0 Iowa Conference) to an easy win. Kylie Van Houten also homered and Ashley Prettyman drove in two. Haag went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in her opening act.
Simpson trailed 4-1 in game two before a two-run homer by Britney Steele helped the Storm take a 5-4 lead in the fourth. Van Vleet's second long ball of the day - a solo shot - made it 6-4 in the fifth.
Playing in the designated player spot to start the second game, Van Vleet (9-1) came on to pitch for Kaytlyn Ernst with two on and a 3-0 count in the fifth. After issuing the walk, Van Vleet coaxed a fly out and got Katie Wyman to ground into a 6-2 fielder's choice.
When it looked like Simpson would get out of the inning unharmed, pinch-hitter Savannah Warburton crushed a grand slam to dead center to give the Knights (16-8, 0-2) an 8-6 lead.
Emma Negrete singled with one out in the sixth to set the stage for Haag's game-tying homer, which cleared the fence in center. Simpson left the bases loaded in the seventh and Hillary Harmon singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the eighth, but she was also left stranded.
Aided by a misplayed fly ball in the outfield, Haag stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. She took the offering from Paige Blom and lined it off the base of the wall in left, scoring Brown and Steele for a 10-8 Simpson lead.
Because the game was originally scheduled to be played in Waverly, Wartburg had the benefit of hitting in the home half.
Wartburg got one run back on an RBI single by Kirby Meyer in the bottom of the ninth. With runners on first and second and one out, Van Vleet forced a pop up for the second out and froze Payge Edwards on a called third strike to secure the win.
Paige Blom threw all nine innings in the game two loss for Wartburg that saw the Knights yield four unearned runs thanks to five errors.
Simpson extended its winning streak against Wartburg to 10 games, a streak dating back to the 2008 season.
The Storm continue conference play Saturday, April 5 when they host 7th-ranked Luther at 2 p.m. The Norse (15-2) will be playing their conference opener when they visit Simpson Softball Complex.