GREEN KNIGHTS SWEEP TRIPLEHEADER TO CLAIM MWC CHAMPIONSHIP

From Sports Information Director, May 2, 2009 | Softball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

RIPON - St. Norbert's College's long road back ended with a Midwest Conference championship after winning three games in 5 1/2 hours at the Midwest Conference Tournament at Tracy Field.

The Green Knights (17-17) rallied from 4-0 deficits in their first two games and then held on in Game 7 to steal the title. St. Norbert topped Lake Forest College 6-5 in an elimination game, and then swept Ripon College 8-6 and 5-4 to earn its third MWC championship. The Green Knights, who receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament, also won MWC titles in 1991 and 2007.

St. Norbert was on the brink of having its season end several times, especially against Lake Forest. The Green Knights scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, getting RBI singles from Kristin Zimmerman and Collette Ullmer - both with one out. St. Norbert began its rally with one run in the third, getting a RBI single from Kayla Krueger. The Foresters made it 5-1 with one in the fourth, but the Green Knights answered with two in their half on a two-run double from Tracy Palmer. St. Norbert pulled to within 5-4 on a solo home run from Ullmer in the sixth.

Zimmerman and Ullmer both finished 3-for-4 against the Foresters, while Palmer and Krueger were both 2-for-4. Jessica Kropp earned the wining relief, allowing eight hits but just one run in 4 2/3 innings.

St. Norbert again fell behind 4-0 in its first matchup of the day against Ripon. Brieanne Oehlke and Zimmerman stroked back-to-back doubles to start the second, and Kropp folloowed two hitters later with a two-run single. The Red Hawks scored one in the fourth but St. Norbert answered right back with an RBI single from Alyssa McGray to pull within 5-4. St. Norbert broke the game open with a four-run fifth. Zimmerman had an RBI single to score Stephanie Ortiz, and Ullmer then hit a three-run home run. Ripon scored once in the seventh and had two runners on but couldn't get the winning run aboard.

Ullmer was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Zimmerman and Oehlke were both 2-for-3 with two runs scored. St. Norbert had 11 hits. Krueger picked up the win in relief, allowing six hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings.

In the decisive seventh game of the double-elimination tournament, St. Norbert got the early jump, taking a 3-0 lead after three innings. Oehlke hit a two-run home run in the second, and Krueger drove in Palmer with a single in the third. Ripon scored once in the fourth, but Ullmer's solo home run in the bottom of the inning made it 4-1. Ripon scored twice in the sixth to cut it to 4-3, but Oehlke hit her ninth home run of the year with a solo shot in the sixth.

The top of the seventh proved tense for St. Norbert, as Ripon mounted a last-ditch rally. Following a flyout to start, Ripon had three baserunners reach on two singles and an error, and an outfield error made it 5-4 with runners on second and third with one out. Zimmerman then cut down the potential tying run at the plate for the second out, and Krueger fielded a comebacker to end the game.

Ullmer homered in each of the three games for St. Norbert, while Oehlke homered in both Ripon games. Oehlke finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Kari Corbeille worked the first 5 1/3 innings and earned her first win of the season, allowing six hits with three runs with one walk and three strikeouts. Krueger earned the save with 1 2/3 innings of three-hit relief. Brittnee Peotter suffered the loss for Ripon, allowing eight hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts.