Steele, Van Vleet lead softball in split with No. 5 Luther

Steele, Van Vleet lead softball in split with No. 5 Luther

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Britney Steele homered and drove in a career-best four runs and Abbie Van Vleet went the distance in a 6-2, game one win as the Simpson softball team earned a doubleheader split against No. 5 Luther on Saturday. Luther took the nightcap 13-3 in six innings.

The Storm (16-10, 3-1 Iowa Conference) managed just three hits in the opener, but made the most of their opportunities. Two of the team's three hits came off the bat of the No. 9 hitter, Steele. The junior crushed a three-run homer off All-American Becca Girvan in the second and drove in a run on a double in the fourth.

Van Vleet (10-1) had an impressive outing in the circle, keeping the conference's top offense off the board until the fifth. She scattered eight hits in seven innings, striking out two to improve to 3-0 in league play.

Van Vleet made two mistakes on the day, both resulting in Luther runs. Kayla Hatting scored on a wild pitch in the fifth and Alise Miller hit a solo homer in the sixth for the Norse (16-3, 1-1).

The 2012 Iowa Conference Pitcher of the Year, Girvan (8-2) was chased in the fourth inning after allowing six runs – five earned – and walking six.

Steele faced a 3-2 count when she lined a shot over the left field fence to give Simpson a 3-0 lead in the second. The she started a two-out rally in the fourth when she doubled to left, scoring Stacie Brown from first. Rachel Guessford singled in a run two batters later and Ashley Prettyman scored on an error to give Simpson a 6-0 lead.

The nightcap was a different story for Simpson.

An RBI single by Hillary Harmon gave Simpson a 1-0 lead in the first, but it went downhill after that. Carli Radil hit a two-run homer in the third, Luther tacked on two more in the fourth and broke the game open with eight in the sixth.

Simpson committed four errors in the sixth as seven of Luther's eight runs were unearned.

Tori Haag and Hailey Jensen had two hits apiece and Kaytlyn Ernst (5-7) suffered the loss for Simpson. Topanga Skiles (3-0) earned the win for Luther, going 5 1/3 and allowing five hits.

The schedule doesn't get an easier for Simpson, which faces another nationally-ranked foe when it travels to Coe on Wednesday, April 9.The 12-ranked Kohawks (22-3, 4-0) swept Dubuque 3-2 and 4-1 on Saturday. 

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