MONMOUTH, Ill. -- North Central head coach Jim Kulawiak became just the 12th coach at the NCAA Division III level to reach 700 wins, as the Cardinals swept Monmouth College in a non-conference doubleheader Saturday by scores of 11-3 and 5-4.
Coach Kulawiak is in his 26th year with the Cardinal program, racking up a record of 700-303-3 during that span while taking the Cardinals to 10 NCAA Division III softball tournaments.
In game one of the doubleheader, the North Central offense came out of the gate swinging as the Cardinals plated three runs in the top of the first. Cecie Portillo andKayla Antle started the rally as each singled to begin the inning. Two batters later, Brooke Kehoe singled home Portillo to get North Central on the board.
Vlasta Mangia followed with an RBI groundout and Kehoe came around to score later in the inning on a Fighting Scots error to put North Central ahead 3-0.
The offensive outburst would continue into the top of the second for the Cardinals, as Bri Floyd led off the inning with a walk and Portillo followed with her second single in as many innings. After Floyd and Portillo advanced a base on a flyout, Amanda Walker stepped to the plate and delivered a 2-RBI base hit to put North Central in front 5-0.
After a Kehoe walk to put runners on first and second, Mangia followed with an RBI single of her own while Jordan Johnson got in on the scoring attack later in the inning, lining a two-RBI double to the fence and giving the Cardinals an 8-0 lead after two innings.
In the top of the third North Central posted another crooked number on the board, plating three more runs on RBI singles off the bats of Antle and Kehoe, as well as a sacrifice fly from Walker.
An 11-run lead would be all Mangia needed in the circle for North Central as the senior tossed 4.1 innings, striking out a pair. Mangia found herself in trouble in the bottom of the fifth after the Fighting Scots plated three runs to break the shutout, but Bri Kiel came in to shut the door, retiring the only two batters she faced.
In the nightcap, the Cardinals (10-2) found themselves down early as the Fighting Scots' Caitlin Lingle drove home a run with an RBI double in the bottom of the first, giving the hosts an early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fifth the North Central bats came alive, connecting on three hits while taking advantage of a Monmouth error to plate four runs. Floyd led off reaching on an error and would score two batters later on an Antle single to tie the score 2-2.
Walker followed right behind with an RBI single of her own while Kehoe backed that up with a 2-RBI double, scoring Antle and Walker to give North Central a 5-2 lead.
The Fighting Scots rallied for a run in each of the final two innings, but could not muster enough momentum to overtake the lead as Andre Starr went the distance in the circle to improve to 5-0 on the season. Starr tossed all 7 innings, giving up three earned runs while striking out five and walking just one.