The Lawrence University softball team swept a doubleheader from Beloit Tuesday night in sub par weather conditions. The wins gave them the Northern Division championship, and put them in the MWC Tournament. The Vikings last won the Northern Division in 1999. The Vikings defeated Beloit 7-1 and 6-3.In the first game, Lawrence was in control for all seven innings. Shortstop Jenny Burris led off with a double, and later scored on a sacrifice fly. The Vikings took a 1-0 lead into the fourth when they scored two more. Designated Hitter Emma Keyser singled in a run with the bases loaded, and then Beloit pitcher Jennifer Kluge walked in another run to make the score 3-0. Beloit added one in the top of the fifth, but LU countered with four of their own to put the score at 7-1. Amy Varda pitched an extraordinary game for the Vikings. She threw seven innings allowing only one run and four hits. She struck out six Beloit batters. Center fielder Kiana Neal, and first Baseman Ashley Stanton led the Vikings offence. They both went 2-3 with a run scored. This win clinched a tie for the Northern Division title, which game Lawrence the first seed via the tiebreaker versus St. Norbert. The Vikings could win the division outright with a win in the second game.
In the second game the weather worsened. The rain picked up, as did the wind. The teams battled through it however to play all seven innings. The Vikings were the road team on the scoreboard for the second game, but that did not matter. They jumped out early again on Beloit. Before the first inning was over, two Vikings had crossed the plate, and Lawrence had a 2-0 lead. Left fielder Sarah Sager hit a single down the right field line that scored two Vikings. Lawrence added another in the second, but Beloit added a pair and the score was 3-2 after two innings. The Vikings added another as Beloit errors became costly to them. Sager singled in her third RBI of the game and the Vikings were ahead 5-2. Stanton knocked in the Vikings last run in the fourth, and Beloit added one more in the sixth, but that would end the scoring as LU defeated Beloit 6-3. Pitcher Lauren Kost picked up the win for the Vikings. She gave up seven hits and struck out six batters in seven innings. She boosts her season record to 10-3.
The Vikings will be the North Division’s first seed at this weekend’s Midwest Conference Tournament at Lake Forest. The Vikings will play the second seeded team from the south in the first round, which is Monmouth. The Vikings lost to Monmouth earlier in the season by a score of 5-2. The other two teams in the tournament are St. Norbert, who the Vikings are 2-0 against this season, and Lake Forest, who defeated LU 3-0 earlier this season. The tournament is set up in a double elimination format. A team must lose twice to be knocked out. The Vikings have not faired well against the two teams from the Southern Division this season, but they are confident coming in. “It’s nice to be the first seed, but we have to prove that now,” said Viking coach Kim Tatro. Varda likes the Vikings chances at Lake Forest, “We feel confident considering the coaches picked us to be second to last, and now we are first. If we hit like we have lately, we will do well.” The tournament starts this morning, with LU facing Monmouth at ten and will continue into Saturday.