With a sweep of a doubleheader against Carroll College, the Lawrence University Softball team clinched the Northern Division of the Midwest Conference. The crown means the Vikings will host this weekend’s MWC Tournament at Whiting Field.The Vikings played four games against MWC foes, two each against Carroll and Beloit. The Vikings took care of business, sweeping Carroll 8-6 and 5-3.
In the first game, Lauren Kost pitched all seven innings for her eighth win of the year. She gave up six runs, but struck out five batters. Centerfielder Becca Reason led the Vikings, going 4-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. She also stole two bases. Shortstop Jenny Burris was right behind her, going 3-4 with two runs and an RBI.
In the nightcap it was Amy Varda’ s time to shine on the mound. She struck out two in seven innings as she picked up her fourth win of the season.
On the offensive side, Burris shined again. She went 3-4 again with two runs scored and two RBIs. Two of her hits were doubles, and she picked up a stolen base as well. With the win in the second game, the Vikings clinched the MWC Northern Division title, and the rights to host the MWC Tournament at home.
The Vikings still had one MWC series left, however. They played a doubleheader against Beloit. The first game of the series was a pitchers’ duel, on which Kost found herself on the wrong side. Kost gave up only one run, but Buccaneer pitcher Dani Meehan pitched a four-hit shutout. Burris went 2-3 and had half of the team’s hits, but it wasn’t enough.
In the second game, the Vikings showed the offensive prowess they were missing the game before. The Vikings jumped all over Meehan for three runs in the first inning and then seven runs in the third to coast to a five-inning 10-0 victory to round out their second Northern Division championship in a row.
Burris continued a torrid week by going 2-2 with another stolen base. She leads the MWC in hitting, batting .494. A very good batting average is .400, so Burris is having possibly the best year a Viking player has had in a long time. Reason also went 2-3 for the Vikings. She is batting .402 and is in fifth place in the MWC.
Today and tomorrow the Vikings will host the Midwest Conference Tournament at Whiting Field. The Vikings are looking for their first title since they ended their string of three in a row in 1999.
The Vikings will have the best offensive team in the field after finishing second in the MWC in batting average behind Ripon. The Vikings are hitting .309 on the year.
Lake Forest comes in with the best pitching squad. Their team ERA for the season is 1.29, much lower than the rest of the league.
These two teams will square off at noon today, with the opening game between St. Norbert and Monmouth at 10:00 a.m. The losers of the two games will play at 2:00 p.m. and the winners will play at 4:00 p.m.
The tournament is a double elimination tournament; lose twice and you are done. The Vikings lost their first two games last year to Monmouth and St. Norbert.
The championship game is set to begin at noon tomorrow, with a second game at 2:00 p.m. if needed.