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McCain clutch for winning Jimmies

University of Jamestown's Allie McCain bats during a game against Briar Cliff University on March 29 in Sioux City, Iowa. Ryan Mikkelson / For The Sun

University of Jamestown's Allie McCain has become a reliable asset both in the field and at the plate during her senior season for Jimmies softball and head coach Kevin Gall.

Batting second in the order and manning left field, McCain hit 7-for-17 with five RBIs and four runs scored during the Jimmies' latest 4-0 stretch of Great Plains Athletic Conference play held in Sioux City, Iowa. The Jimmies outlasted Doane University 9-8 in 11 innings and 3-2 on Monday, April 15, with McCain driving in three runs and throwing out a pair of Doane Tigers at the plate.

With eight conference games remaining to the regular season, runners attempting to score on a ball hit to McCain in left might now want to rethink their options.

"I don't know," McCain laughed. "Coach Gall calls me a slingshot, so you never know."

A surgically-repaired slingshot at that.

McCain underwent elbow surgery on her throwing right arm last spring, which she said addressed an injury she's been dealing with since her days playing at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, Wash. McCain has collected five outfield assists, 43 putouts and a .980 fielding percentage for the Jimmies in 57 career games. The senior has started 34 of the Jimmies' 36 contests played this season.

"It's definitely a lot better than it was last year," said McCain of her throwing arm. "I feel a lot more comfortable throwing from the outfield, and my outfielders believe in me. They don't have to worry about cutting off the throw. They know it'll get home."

They also know McCain's become a tough out in the left-handed batter's box behind leadoff hitter Mikayla Frost in the order. McCain, a junior college transfer from Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., boasts a career .363 average in her two seasons at UJ, slashing .344/.355/.369 with 24 runs scored and just eight strikeouts in 122 at-bats this spring.

"Honestly, it feels really good," said McCain, who doesn't bat for power. "I'm just going up there trying to stay relaxed and put things in play. Look for a base hit with runners on, or try to hit something to bring them home."

The Jimmies (25-11, 9-5 GPAC) also swept Hastings College (Neb.) in a pair of games Sunday in Sioux City to stay within four games of the GPAC lead. Jamestown is currently fourth in the standings behind conference leader Morningside College (14-2 GPAC), Midland University (10-2) and Concordia University (9-3).

Jamestown wraps up conference play facing Northwestern College (4-6) at home this Friday, before playing Dakota Wesleyan (6-10), Dordt (7-9) and Morningside on the road. The double-elimination GPAC tournament begins May 2 with a pair of four-team tournaments hosted by the conference's top two seeds.

"We did what we needed to do when we needed to do it this weekend," McCain said. "We're starting to put all the pieces together and it's showing in a really positive way."

"We're confident we're going to get a good seed going into the conference tournament. We just have to keep playing the way we know how to."

UJ 9, Doane 8 (11 inn.)

A marathon game utilized international tiebreaker rules beginning in the 10th inning, which put runners on second base to start each half inning.

Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the 11th, UJ freshman third baseman Mariah Martinez immediately tied the game with a run-scoring leadoff single, plating senior Miriah Yoder from second. Martinez would fly into second on the throw home, later scoring the game-winning run from third on a Morgan Geiszler two-out, infield single.

McCain, who went 3-for-6 with three RBIs, scored Mariah Wick and Frost (3-for-6, 3 stolen bases) with a two-out, two-run single that tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh, sending the contest to extras. Both teams scored a pair of runs in the 10th, with freshman Santina Zito (3-for-5) coming up with the game-tying hit for the Jimmies in the bottom half, forcing an 11th frame.

Doane's Erika Herrera put the Tigers out front 8-7 with a run-scoring single in the top half. Kat Miska (12-4) pitched all 11 innings in the win for Jamestown, allowing three earned runs with nine strikeouts and four walks.

McCain gunned down Doane shortstop Haley Kennedy at the plate to record the final out of the ninth, with Katie Reisdorfer applying the tag, keeping the game tied at 5-5.

"I thought the freshman Santina Zito had a pretty good weekend and swung the bat well, and Allie McCain also swung the bat well for us this weekend," coach Gall said. "Hopefully we can get them all going at the same time. We've got some big conference games coming up."

UJ 3, Doane 2

Game 2 against the Tigers was a tad less dramatic, but a pair of defensive gems stood out.

After McCain threw out Doane's Tayler Mashburn at home from left field to end the top of the fifth in a 3-1 game, Wick, UJ's sophomore center fielder, mowed down the game-tying run—Kennedy—at the plate from center to record the final out of the afternoon.

Yoder, playing catcher for the Jimmies in game 2, recorded both putouts.

"It definitely helps turn our offense on. That's what we're hoping to have happen," Gall said of the web gems. "Our defensive play can help give our offensive a boost and score some runs. The one McCain threw out at home wasn't close."

The Jimmies scored single runs in the first, second and fourth. UJ senior right fielder Meghan Ramage posted an RBI single in the first, junior first baseman Courtney Espinoza was hit by a pitch and later scored on a passed ball in the second, while Yoder cracked an run-scoring single in the fourth.

Freshman pitcher Katie Merchant (11-6) allowed seven hits and just one walk to earn the win. Jamestown is scheduled to play a non-conference doubleheader Tuesday against Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., before playing its only two games of the season at home Friday.

Senior day for the Jimmies at Trapper Field facing Northwestern begins at 1 p.m.

"The stakes are a little higher every time you play. People are fighting and scratching to make the conference tournament," Gall said. "There's no easy games (in the GPAC), the way it's looking to me. We've got to be ready to play and we have to perform when we have the opportunity."

Monday

University of Jamestown 9, Doane University 8 (11 inn.)

DU 300 020 000 21 -- 8 13 1

UJ 101 001 200 22 -- 9 16 2

Josie Schnakenberg and Halie Rohe. Kat Miska and Katie Reisdorfer. W--Miska. L--Schnakenberg.

Highlights: DU, Schnakenberg 7 ER, 2 SO, 1 BB; Jordan Van Roy 3-5, 2B; Erika Herrera 2-4, RBI; Haileigh Tardiff 2-5, 2 RBI; Kailyn Wiseman 2-5. UJ, Miska 3 ER, 9 SO, 4 BB; Mikayla Frost 3-6, 3 SB, Allie McCain 3-6, 2B, 3 RBI; Morgan Geiszler 2-5, RBI; Meghan Ramage 2-5, 3B; Santina Zito 3-5, RBI; Mariah Martinez 2-5, RBI.

University of Jamestown 3, Doane University 2

DU 000 010 1 -- 2 7 1

UJ 110 100 X -- 3 6 2

Breanna Hamilton, Haileigh Tardiff (4) and Rohe. Katie Merchant and Miriah Yoder. W--Merchant. L--Hamilton.

Highlights: DU, Hamilton 3 R, 2 ER, 3 SO, 1 BB; Tardiff 3 R, 2 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB; Herrera 2-4, RBI; Tayler Mashburn 2-3. UJ, Merchant 2 ER, 0 SO, 1 BB; Reisdorfer 2-3; Ramage 1-2, RBI; Yoder 1-3, RBI.

Sunday

University of Jamestown 5, Hastings College 3

HC 100 011 0 -- 3 7 3

UJ 111 020 X -- 5 10 1

Kyra Maguire and Julia Reimer. Miska and Reisdorfer. W--Miska. L--Maguire.

Highlights: HC, Maguire 2 ER, 3 SO, 2 BB; Reimer 1-3, 2 RBI; Bailey Collingham 2-3, RBI. UJ, Miska 2 ER, 6 SO, 2 BB; McCain 2-4, RBI; Martinez 2-3, 2 RBI.

University of Jamestown 11, Hastings 3 (6 inn.)

HC 000 102 -- 3 7 3

UJ 002 045 -- 11 14 3

Sarah Barger and Hannah Langer. Merchant and Reisdorfer. W--Merchant. L--Barger.

Highlights: HC, Barger 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Sara Specht 2-3, 2B, RBI. UJ, Merchant 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO; Frost 2-4, 2 R; McCain 2-4, RBI, 2 R; Ramage 3-4, 3 RBI; Yoder 2-4, 3 RBI.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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