Luther College captured its fourth Iowa Conference Softball Tournament crown Sunday with a 15-11 win over host Coe College at Clark Field.
The tournament title is the fourth for Luther, all in the last five seasons. The Norse also receive the Iowa Conference's automatic berth in the 2014 NCAA Division III Softball Championships - familiar territory for a program that has won regional crowns and advance to the championship finals each of the last four seasons. The full field will be announced on at 9 a.m. Monday.
After combining for two runs on six hits and one home run in Luther's 2-0, 8-inning win in Saturday’s semifinal, Luther and Coe amassed 26 runs on 30 hits, including six home runs, in Sunday's final. The combined number of runs is an IIAC Tournament record, while the 15 runs for Luther ranks second only to the 16 the Norse put up in a 16-6 win over Simpson in the 2010 final.
Luther's Kelsey Rose finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs, while teammate Katie Wieland also drove in four. The pair figured prominently in Luther's seven-run fourth inning with Rose hitting a two-run home run to right and Wieland following three batters later with a three-run shot to left as the first seven Norse batters reached base and six runs crossed the plate before an out was recorded.
The Norse opened the game with three runs in the top of the first only to see the Kohawks bounce back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame on a Danielle Schlotterbeck two-run homer. After Luther added single runs in the second and third innings, Coe retook the lead with four runs in their half of the third powered by a Nikki Gentile two-run blast to left center before the Norse broke the game open in the fourth.
Coe's Abby Flannagan and Luther's Kristen Winter traded two-run home runs, and the Kohawks added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth as pinch-runners Jacqueline Naeve and Gretchen Lilienthal scored on an Erin Lang infield single and an ensuing throwing error to cut Luther's lead to 14-10. Coe was unable to do any further damage in the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
Rose picked up another RBI in the sixth, rapping a hard single back up the middle to score Kayla Uphoff from second base.
Coe mounted one final charge in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases against Luther ace Becca Girvan, but was only able to push one run across.
Luther reliever Annie Versnik was credited with the victory after getting the Norse out of the third inning. It was her only inning of work. Girvan threw the final four innings, scattering five runs on six hits while striking out three, but did not relinquish the lead and earned the rare four-inning save.
Erin Lang and Taylor Riedl both had three hits for Coe with Gentile, Flannagan and Riedl all knocking in a pair.