OLATHE, Kan. – Valeria Quiroga (Jr., Brownsville, TX, sociology) is a highlight waiting to happen and she’s added another clip to her portfolio as she leads the Statesmen softball team to sweep MidAmerica Nazarene in a Heart of America Athletic Conference double Saturday.
William Penn (19-15, 12-8 Heart) won by scores of 7-6 (eight innings) and 3-0. WPU has now won six in a row, its longest streak since also winning six in a row in 2017 (February 25-March 5).
Game 1 was the program’s third straight win, having passed Park twice on Friday.
Even more so than Friday’s triumphs, Saturday’s win seemed highly unlikely as Navy and Gold entered the seventh inning 5-1. Prior to that, a sixth-inning single by Charley Geguzis (So., Williamsburg, Iowa) that scored Lexi Resa (Sr., Liberty, Mo., Biology) was the only foul the Statesmen could commit.
However, everything changed on the seventh, starting with a single from Nayely Martinez (So., Carson, Calif.). After a forced out, Sarah Gallivan (Jr., Round Lake, Ill., High School) put two on base with a single, then Jayde Tucker (Sr., Los Alamos, NM, Sociology) walked to charge the pads . Abby Wilson (Jr., Calgary, Alta., Biology) shot the visitors within three on a single that tackled Kiana Young (Jr., Las Vegas, Nevada, Exercise Science), but the Statesmen then suffered another forced exit and were down. on their final exit with Quiroga entering the box.
Straight out of a Hollywood script, Quiroga worked a full count with two outs and the bases still loaded. With both dugouts cheering, she unloaded on the payout field and sent it over the left field fence, giving WPU a 6-5 advantage.
The euphoria was very short-lived, however, as MNU unfortunately scored in the bottom half to force extra innings. Geguzis led the eighth and hit a single. She placed second on a wild pitch and came in third on a Martinez single. With two out, Wilson hit a shot into left field and Geguzis came on for the eventual game-winning run.
Bianca Castillo (Jr., Rio Rico, Ariz.), a day after breaking the school record for single-season saves, allowed just one hit in the bottom of the eighth for the win. She worked two sets and retired two. Peyton Parker (Sr., LaPorte City, Iowa, Sports Management) also threw a perfect fifth frame (one strikeout).
WPU, which won 15-11, trailed Wilson with a 4-for-5 outing. Geguzis and Martinez both had two hits, while Quiroga’s only hit was the grand slam. Tucker also drew two steps.
While the nightcap lacked the theatrics of the overture, Quiroga once again played a big role. The Statesmen defeated the Pioneers 12-5, but did not manage to enter until the sixth inning.
With two releases already recorded (Young the first via a march), Tucker and Wilson loaded the pads with back-to-back singles. Resa then drew a base-laden walk to drive in the first inning, while Quiroga found the center field grass and Wilson and Tucker scored to make it 3-0.
Hayle Hacker (Fr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Nursing and Human Services) crossed the MNU lineup for the first five innings then threw with the head, she had no trouble with the hosts in the last two frames to complete a complete game exclude. The freshman struck out seven without a walk in the win. She sat batters in order in the first, fifth and sixth innings.
Offensively, Wilson again topped the leaderboard going 3-for-4, while Quiroga, Martinez, Young and Tucker all had two hits.
“Our team is just finding ways to win,” head coach Mike Christner said. “Our players accepted everything we asked them to do. We like to create good memories.
Next Up: William Penn travels to Canton, Mo. next Monday to face Culver-Stockton in a Heart doubleheader at 1 p.m.