University of Jamestown's softball bats finally struck gold on Thursday, May 2, during the Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament at Christensen Field in Fremont, Neb.
The Jimmies blanked Northwestern (Iowa) College 11-0 in five innings and later hung on to defeat Dordt College 5-4, moving Jamestown into the Midland Bracket finals.
The Jimmies (29-17) await the winner of top-seeded Midland University (29-9) and Dordt College (19-22) at 2 p.m., while the winner would have to defeat Jamestown twice to move on to the GPAC finals.
"We really played good team ball today," said Jimmie coach Kevin Gall.
Jamestown, who's averaged 2.55 runs per game over its last nine contests, finally started simplifying at-bats like the 19-year coach has been preaching. Jamestown put up seven runs during the first two innings against Northwestern, after totaling three runs during the Jimmies' only home doubleheader of the year against the Red Raiders back on April 19.
"I would like to think that we simplified things, put the bat on the ball and did not do too much," Gall said. "The girls rallied in a situation where it's do or die and we're up against a wall. We made it happen and it was fun to see."
Jamestown took a 1-0 lead after one frame of game 1 and erupted in the next inning. Nine batters came up to the plate, scoring six runs off four hits and taking advantage of three Red Raider errors.
Katie Merchant gave Jamestown an equally impressive performance in the pitchers' circle, going five innings, allowing zero runs on five hits and striking out two.
"In the first game, I don't believe she walked anyone and in the second game it was zero," Gall said. "She didn't do a whole lot of messing around and didn't go into many full counts. She threw the ball over the plate and changed speeds."
Allie McCain's RBI single to center field became the difference at the end of game 2 as Jamestown held off a three-run Dordt rally in the seventh to hang on for the 5-4 victory.
Merchant, a freshman from South Haven, Minn., nearly threw another complete game, but junior Samm Hamilton came in during the Defenders' rally to record the final two outs. Gall said No. 1 pitcher Kat Miska is day-to-day with an injury.
"It was time to grow up today," Gall said of the freshman Merchant. "Honestly the look on her face this morning was anxiety and after the first pitch, it went away. It's a really big deal for her to do what she did. The stakes were bigger and she stepped up."
The rest of the Midland bracket was turned on its head Thursday. Top-seeded Midland was upset by No. 8 Dordt College 4-3 during the second game of the day. The Warriors defeated Northwestern 11-2 in a loser-out game to stay alive.
Midland or Dordt would have to play three games today in order to claim their half of the GPAC bracket. Jamestown plays at 2 p.m. and a second game would follow if necessary at 4 p.m.
"It makes them have to work a little harder," Gall said. "It makes them have to throw their pitcher again today and tomorrow. Hopefully we have a couple arms left as well.
"We just have to play our game. We don't have to do too much. Like they say in the movie Major League, 'You have to throw the ball and catch the ball,' and hopefully we do that well."
University of Jamestown 11, Northwestern (Iowa) College 0 (5 innings)
UJ 161 03 -- 11 14 0
NWC 000 00 -- 0 5 3
W--Katie Merchant. L--Emma Schnell.
UJ highlights: Mikayla Frost 3-3, 2 2B, 4 R, BB; Allie McCain 3-4, 3 RBI, R; Meghan Ramage 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R; Sydney Prussia 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Morgan Geiszler 1-4, R; Katie Reisdorfer 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Miriah Yoder 1-4; Miriah Wick 1-3, 2 R; Katie Merchant 5 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 K.
Records: University of Jamestown 28-17. Northwestern (Iowa) College 18-24.
University of Jamestown 5, Dordt 4
DC 000 010 3 -- 4 7 1
UJ 000 401 X -- 5 10 1
W--Katie Merchant. L--Tianna Soodsma. S--Samm Hamilton.
UJ highlights: Mikayla Frost 2-4, RBI; Miriah Wick 2-2, R; Allie McCain 1-4, RBI; Sydney Prussia 1-3, R; Morgan Geiszler 1-3; Katie Reisdorfer 1-3, R; Miriah Yoder 1-3, 3 RBI, R; Mirah Martinez 1-3; Katie Merchant 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 R, 6 H, 2 K; Samm Hamilton 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
Records: University of Jamestown 29-17. Dordt College 18-22.