PELLA, Iowa – Abbie Van Vleet carried the Simpson softball team to another win over a top-15 team as the Storm beat 12th-ranked Central 2-1 in game two to earn a doubleheader split on Saturday.
Central won game one 11-3 in six innings, but Simpson clinched a spot in the Iowa Conference Tournament with the game two win.
Simpson also split a doubleheader with fifth-ranked Luther earlier this season.
Van Vleet (14-2) kept the Central offense in check in the complete-game win and hit the game-winning home run in the sixth. The sophomore scattered nine hits and struck out four without allowing a walk, improving to 6-1 in conference play.
Emma Negrete broke a scoreless tie on a dropped fly ball in the second, giving Simpson a 1-0 lead. Van Vleet scored on the play after drawing a walk.
The score was tied 1-1 in the sixth when Van Vleet came to the plate with two outs. She lifted a shot over the left field fence, giving the Storm (21-13, 6-4 Iowa Conference) a 2-1 lead and handing Central starter Trisha Smith (11-2) a rare loss.
Anna Sherry went 2-for-3 in her first start of the season at third base.
Simpson spotted the Dutch (27-7, 7-3) seven runs in game one and couldn't recover.
Kaitlyn Matzen went 3-for-4 and Abbey Strajack went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs as Central got out to a 7-0 lead after three innings.
Simpson closes the home schedule Tuesday when it hosts Buena Vista in a 3 p.m. start. The Beavers (13-15, 5-5) dropped both games of their doubleheader against Coe on Saturday.