by SYDNEY MOHR
From The Winonan, WSU’s student newspaper
The WSU softball team swept their weekend series with four wins in two doubleheaders against Minot State University and the University of Mary in North Dakota. Three of their games were shut-outs, with two scores of 8-0 and one of 7-0.
The Warrior bats came to life late in both games of their doubleheader sweep on Saturday. Junior Lani Van Zyl combined to go seven-for-nine with six RBIs as Winona State improved to 33-5 (12-2 NSIC) to maintain its first-place conference lead.
The Warriors claimed the opener, 11-5, and sophomore Jordyn Kleman blanked the Beavers in the six-inning finale, 8-0. Winona State scored 16 of its 19 combined runs from the fourth inning on in the sweep.
Winona State set the tone for the day with a three-run first inning of game one. Sophomore Katelyn Kolb led off with an infield single and scored when senior Mariah Schultz followed with an RBI-double to deep center field. Two batters later, Schultz scored on a wild pitch, and senior McKenna Larsen made it a 3-0 game with a single to plate Van Zyl.
The Beavers chipped away at their deficit over the next three innings and would tie the game off Larsen in the bottom of the third inning. The Warriors answered with four runs in the top of the fourth and proceeded to score at least one run over the final four frames.
With the game tied 3-3, first-year Rylee Stout led off the fourth inning with her ninth homerun of the season to put Winona back on top. Kolb and Van Zyl each produced two-out run-scoring hits later in the frame to stretch the Warrior lead to 7-3.
First-year Jen Giesey, senior Jamee Schleis, and senior Samantha McLean each drove in runs over the final three innings to pad Winona’s lead in support of Larsen on the mound.
The senior southpaw improved to 11-4 while tossing her 11th complete game of the season. Larsen allowed five runs (four earned) on 10 hits and struck out three over 7.0 IP.
In the finale, Kleman (14-1) posted her sixth shutout of the season, striking out nine batters while allowing just two hits. She now owns a 1.01 ERA (8 ER/55.0 IP) with 70 strikeouts over her last nine appearances. The right-hander leads the NSIC with 105 punchouts.
Game two remained scoreless through three innings until Larsen notched her first of two RBIs in the contest with a single in the top of the fourth frame. Larsen also had a big day at the plate, combing to go four-for-seven with three RBIs in the twinbill. She is currently batting a career-best .423 which is second on the team to only Van Zyl (.452).
The Warriors went to Bismark, N.D., on Sunday, sweeping the University of Mary with a 7-0 and 8-0 win, helping them hold their place as the number one spot in the conference.