INDIANOLA, Iowa – Rachel Guessford hit a pinch-hit home run to send game one to extra innings but the No. 12 Simpson softball team lost a heartbreaker, 6-5 in 11 innings against No. 21 Central on Wednesday. Central went on to win the nightcap 12-3 in five innings.
Game 1: Central 6, Simpson 5 (11)
Heidi Reburn slid under Tori Haag's tag on a play at the plate in the 11th inning and Central held on for the dramatic, 6-5 win in 11 innings.
Pitcher Kacee Arey charged to field the bunt laid down by Paige Heesch and tossed home in an attempt to preserve the tie game. But the speedy Reburn got under the tag, spoiling Simpson's seventh-inning heroics.
Simpson trailed 5-3 with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh when head coach Henry Christowski sent Guessford – a freshman with nine at-bats to her credit – to the plate for the hitless Chelsea Winegard. The move paid off for the Storm as Guessford lined a Brie Haycraft delivery off the top of the fence in left field to force extra innings.
Kylie Van Houten went 2-for-6 with two RBIs, a triple and a double for the Storm (21-5, 0-2 Iowa Conference), who saw their six-game winning streak come to a halt with the sweep. Arey (16-4) threw all 11 innings in the loss, striking out four while hurling more than 200 pitches.
Caitlyn Meyer went 4-for-6 with a home run and Courtney Meyer had two hits and two RBIs for the Dutch (18-5, 2-0), who cracked the NFCA Top 25 for the first time on Wednesday. Mallory Schulenberg (8-1) went a total of 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts for the win.
The teams combined to strand 28 baserunners - 16 for Central and 12 for Simpson - in the game, which last 3 hours and 17 minutes.
Simpson led 3-0 after the first thanks to Van Houten's two-RBI double and an RBI fielder's choice by Haag. The Storm held a 3-1 lead until the sixth, when Whitney Sowers drove in the go-ahead run to cap a 3-run inning for Central.
Game 2: Central 12, Simpson 3 (5)
Caitlyn Meyer went 5-for-5 with three RBIs and a double and Central ran away from Simpson in the nightcap, 12-3 in five innings.
Kelsey Stender (6-3) held one of the top offenses in the nation to just three hits over 4 1/3 innings to get the win.
Hillary Harmon and Ashley Prettyman had two hits apiece for the Storm, who found themselves in a 5-0 hole after three innings. Despite throwing all 11 innings in game one, Arey – who took the loss in both games – threw the first inning of game two before calling it a night.
Simpson goes to Dubuque for a doubleheader against the University of Dubuque on Saturday, April 6. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
The Spartans (8-8, 2-0) opened league play by sweeping Loras, 6-3 and 11-2 (5) on Wednesday night.
Picked seventh in the preseason coaches' poll, Dubuque is led at the plate by Amber Meyer (.545, 3 HR, 12 RBIs) and Susan Danielewski (.395, 7 RBIs). Emily Michels (4-5, 3.11 ERA) is the top option inside the circle.