* This story was included in the April 14 edition of the Hastings Tribune.
The Hastings College and Doane softball programs have played pretty even over the years and Wednesday night’s doubleheader was no different.
Entering the Smith Softball Complex last night, the series between the two was tied 18-18 since 2001. They left the complex tied 19-19.
Doane (20-7) (9-1) won the first game 3-2, while Hastings (27-13) (4-6) won the second 6-5 on a walk-off single by senior Kate Bahnk that scored two runs.
Despite rattling off four consecutive conference victories in sweeps over Dakota Wesleyan University (S.D.) and Briar Cliff University (Iowa), Doane broke that streak by utilizing clutch hitting to pick up that 3-2 victory in game one.
But Hastings head coach Troy Baker said it was errors that set the Broncos back from the beginning. Hastings had two throwing errors in the first inning that led to Doane’s Nicole Fernandez being able to score to begin the game.
“We threw it around a couple of times,” Baker said. “They didn’t really earn any of those runs.”
After allowing Doane’s Nicole Fernandez to score following two throwing errors, Doane jumped to a 1-0 lead.
Doane struck again in the top of the third inning to take a 2-0 lead, but the Broncos responded, adding two of their own in the bottom of the third.
Junior Chloe Boeka led the inning off with a single, before Corrin Ziepke, who had a .424 batting average entering the game, belted a homerun over the left-center fence to tie the game.
Bahnk pitched three consecutive scoreless innings before allowing three hits in the top of the seventh. Doane’s Jordan Van Roy slapped a line drive down the left field line to bring home junior Kelsey Bernhardt for what turned out to be the winning run.
In the second game, much like game one, Fernandez reached base early after a poor job by the Broncos fielding a bunt attempt. Bernhardt then slapped a single and put Doane on top 1-0 after the first inning.
Hastings responded with some offensive fireworks, as Cara Williams reached base after a single before senior Morgan Fisher belted a homerun to put the Broncos up 2-1.
Fisher went three for four with two runs and two RBIs in game two.
The Broncos saw a flash of power again in the third inning, when Ziepke crushed a homerun to extend their lead to two. Both teams added a run in the fourth inning, while Doane added one in the fifth after a Bronco throwing error.
Doane’s Makaela Moore scored on a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning and the Tigers tied the game once again. Hastings went 0-for-3 in the sixth inning and entered the top of the seventh in a tie game.
Heather Ramirez rocked a homerun over the left-centerfield fence off Taylor Erlenbusch to give the Tigers momentum and a one-run lead. Erlenbusch responded and retired the next three batters and the Broncos were down one with just a half-inning to go.
Boeka hit a line drive that skipped off the pitcher, but rolled to the second baseman and was thrown out to start the inning. Doane switched pitchers, but Ziepke struck a tricky, in-between pop-up that landed in the outfield to give the Broncos a base runner with one out.
Fisher came up in the clutch once again, driving a ground-rule double under the right-centerfield fence that put both herself and Ziepke with in scoring position with just one out.
Doane walked Heather Sabata, which loaded the bases for Bahnk, who battled in a lengthy at-bat, before driving a walk-off single up the middle that scored both Ziepke and Fisher to win the game for the Broncos.
“It’s one of those things where were not getting breaks and then we actually got one,” Baker said. “Corrin hit a mile-high pop up, Morgan (Fisher) came up clutch with a big double and Kate came through. Finally, Kate got something to hit and she ripped it right up the middle.”
The win puts the Broncos at 5-7 in conference play and, according to Baker, keeps them in the hunt for a conference tournament berth.
“The positives: Morningside, Concordia and Doane are off of our schedule,” he said. “They’re the best three teams we’ll see the rest of the year. If we don’t get into that final eight that one’s on us.”