Wartburg Is No. 6 Seed In IIAC Softball Tournament
The 2016 Iowa Conference Softball Tournament bracket is set with the regular season coming to a close on Sunday night (May 1).
Wartburg, picked to finished last in the preseason coaches poll, earned the No. 6 seed in the six-team field after finishing conference play with a 7-7 record. The underdog Knights, who have just one senior and one junior on their 31-player roster, have proven they're a squad that can't be overlooked. They are the only Iowa Conference (IIAC) team to beat regular-season champion Luther this season.
The aggressive Knights lead the league in stolen bases (34) with Erica Countryman (Plainfield, Ill.) and Katie Sommer (Marion) each stealing a conference-best eight bases. Mara Forsyth (Charles City) has provided the pop in the lineup with a league-high five home runs and .795 slugging percentage. Countryman, Forsyth, and Sommer lead a talented sophomore class for Wartburg.
As the regular season league champion, Luther will host the two-day, single elimination tournament in Decorah on Friday and Saturday (May 6-7).
No. 1 seed Luther (11-1) and No. 2 seed Simpson (8-4) will receive first round byes. First Round games will feature No. 4 Central (8-6) vs. No. 5 Coe (6-6) at 1:00 p.m. with the winner drawing Luther in the semifinals. The late first round game pits No. 3 Buena Vista (7-5) vs. No. 6 Wartburg with the winner moving on to face Simpson.
Luther earned the No. 1 seed by winning the league's regular season title. The Norse outscored their opponents 79-22 with six shutouts.
In the circle, the one-two punch of Amanda Witzlib and Samantha Bratland have Luther ranked No. 6 in the nation. Witzlib is 6-0 with a league leading 0.90 ERA while Bratland is 5-1 and is second in the IIAC with an ERA of 1.51. At the plate, senior second baseman Miranda McCay leads the IIAC in batting average (.486) and on base percentage (.592) while sophomore shortstop Anna Strien has scored a league best 13 runs.
Simpson finished second in the league race. The Storm offense has been led by Rachel Guessford and her four home runs and league high 17 RBI. Dual threat Riley Fisher is hitting .433 (13-30) with three home runs and is 4-1 on the mound with 42 strikeouts. Fellow two-way player Abbie VanVleet is batting .333 (13-39) with three doubles and two home runs while also earning four wins on the mound.
Third-seeded Buena Vista is led, offensively, by sisters Autumn and Cheyanne Boland, who have combined to hit. 390 (30-77) with 15 runs scored, 13 RBI, and nine doubles. Moriah Guyett and Jenna Falline have each earned three wins in conference play, with Guyett striking out 46 batters in 37.2 innings pitched.
Defending tournament champion Central is the four seed. The Dutch are led by the dependable arm of junior Karly Olson, who leads the IIAC in wins (7), strikeouts (61), innings pitched (66.0), and appearances (14). Sophomore Tabitha Taylor is leading Central offensively with a .429 batting average (18-42) and 10 RBI, eight runs scored, five doubles, and two home runs.
Coe is the five seed won the tie-breaker over Wartburg after sweeping the regular-season doubleheader. The Kohawks are the league's top fielding team with a .972 fielding percentage and they've committed only nine errors in 326 chances. Freshman Allie O'Brien leads Coe in slugging percentage (.581) and on base percentage (.475) and leads the IIAC in triples (2) and hit by pitches (5). Maliah Fligg has a 2.12 ERA and 3-1 record in the circle.
The Iowa Conference tournament schedule is posted below.
Iowa Conference Softball Tournament Schedule
Friday, May 6:
Game 1 - 2:00 p.m.: No. 4 Central (H) vs. No. 5 Coe (V)
Game 2 - 4:30 p.m.: No. 3 Buena Vista (H) vs. No. 6 Wartburg (V)
Saturday, May 7
Game 3 - 11:00 a.m.: No.1 Luther (H) vs. Game 1 winner (V)
Game 4 - 1:30 p.m.: No. 2 Simpson (H) vs. Game 2 winner (V)
Game 5 - 4:00 pm.: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Sunday, May 8: