EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – Ripon continued its run in the 2011 Division III Softball Championships with a 3-2 victory against St. Scholastica (Minn.) Saturday afternoon, eliminating the Saints from tournament play. The victory gave the Red Hawks 26 wins on the year, tying the school record for victories in a season and keeping them alive in the double elimination playoffs.
The game’s first run came in the top of the second inning, which was led off with a single by St. Scholastica’s Tiffany Hudack. She scored on a single down the right field line by Jen Falk to give the Saints (29-15) the lead. Ripon (26-9) waited for the fourth inning to even the score, as freshmen Cassie Bilotto and Beth Ebben connected on back-to-back doubles.
The tie didn’t last long, as Bonnie Kowalczyk drew a bases loaded walk in the top of the fifth to grab the lead back for St. Scholastica. That was all the runs they would get as they left the bases loaded.
Ripon took advantage in the bottom of the fifth. Stephanie Rieuwpassa roped a one-out single to start a rally, moving to third on a double from Maeghan Boswell. Alli Jensen then added to her team-best RBI total with a sacrifice fly down the right field line, allowing Rieuwpassa to cross the plate and tie the game at 2-2.
The Red Hawks took their first lead of the game in the following inning, which was led off with Ebben reaching on a St. Scholastica fielding error. That would come back to haunt the Saints, as she would later score on a double by fellow freshman Jordan Hester, giving Ripon a 3-2 lead entering the game’s final inning.
In the last frame, a double led off the top of the seventh for St. Scholastica. Rieuwpassa got the next two batters to pop out and after a walk put runners on first and second, the Red Hawks finished off their second-ever Regional victory with a strikeout to end the game.
Ripon’s six hits came from six different players, including one apiece from the first five batters in the Red Hawks’ batting order. Five of Ripon’s hits were doubles including Rieuwpassa’s school record-tying 13th of the season. Rieuwpassa (13-4) also moved into third for the most victories by a Ripon pitcher in school history. She finished her 13th complete game of the year allowing just one run on four hits, while striking out nine.
St. Scholastica’s four hits all came from different batters, with the team’s only extra-base hit being a double by Merryssa Tiedeman. Darcy Roach (8-7) took the loss despite giving up no earned runs on just one hit in 1.2 innings of relief.