MASON CITY – The NIACC softball team returns to ICCAC action this weekend with pair of doubleheaders on the road.
NIACC (5-5 overall, 0-2 in the ICCAC) plays at No. 7 Kirkwood starting at 3 p.m. Friday and at Southwestern starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“Both of this weekend’s opponents will be good tests for us,” NIACC coach Tyler Sisco said. “Kirkwood seems to be very good in all phases of the game and is off to a fast start to their season.
“Southwestern was one game away from the World Series last year and returns all of their key players.”
Kirkwood (22-3 overall, 8-0 in the ICCAC) swept Marshalltown 10-0 in five innings and 5-0 on Wednesday. The Eagles also own ICCAC doubleheader sweeps of Ellsworth, Iowa Central and Southwestern.
Sophomore Kayla Tatge has 16 home runs (first in NJCAA Division II) and 39 RBIs (7th in NJCAA Division II and first in ICCAC) to lead Kirkwood. Tatge has 36 career home runs.
Also for Kirkwood, Haylee Krack is hitting .429 (6th in ICCAC). Kristen Winter is hitting .425 (7th in ICCAC). Krack ranks second in the league with 33 RBIs and Winter is third with 27 RBIs.
In the circle for Kirkwood, Amber Logemann (5-2) has struck out 129 and walked 8 in 63.1 innings pitched. She struck out a school-record 19 in a 2-1 13-inning win over Southwestern on March 31.
Southwestern (9-7, 3-5) was swept by No. 9 DMACC 8-0 and 5-2 Wednesday.
For the Spartans, Ashley Brandt leads the ICCAC in batting at .561. Daniyielle Barger leads the team with 14 RBIs (7th in ICCAC).
In the circle for the Spartans, Courtney Wagner is 4-3 with a 2.43 with 48 strikeouts and 16 walks in 49 innings pitched.
“As usual, it will be important to throw strikes, play as clean as we can and consistently string some base runners together,” Sisco said.
NIACC last played on March 29 when the Lady Trojans dropped a doubleheader to DMACC (12-0 in five innings and 5-2).
“We took a lot of good from last weekend’s game with DMACC,” Sisco said, “not just in the phases we did well but making of the things we need to improve on or would try differently if we see them in the regional tournament.”
Way above average: Sophomore Hailey Eckstein (Larsen, Wis.) is batting .515 (3rd in ICCAC) … Sophomore Beth Mildenhall (Eldora, Ia.) is hitting .417 (9th in ICCAC).
Power surge: Sophomore Cassie Pappas (Mason City, Ia.) has collected 8 hits this spring with seven of them going for extra bases ( 6 home runs, 1 double).
In the circle: freshman Paige Thompson (Gladbrook, Ia.) is 3-2 with a 6.25 earned run average. Thompson has 19 strikeouts and 17 walks in 28 innings pitched. Also, freshman Nicole Duford (St. Benedict, Saskatchewan) is 2-3 with a 2.88 ERA. Duford has 27 strikeouts and 7 walks in 34 innings pitched.
Home opener: The Lady Trojans host Iowa Lakes on Tuesday in their home opener.
After Tuesday’s twinbill on the NIACC campus, it’s back on the road for the Lady Trojans. They play at Iowa Central Wednesday, at Marshalltown April 13, at the Kirkwood tournament April 14 and at Iowa Lakes on April 17.
Around the league this weekend: On Friday, Ellsworth (3-5, 0-4) plays at DMACC (17-1, 8-0); Iowa Central (9-13, 1-3) plays at Marshalltwon (6-11, 2-4) and the Morningside College junior varsity plays at Iowa Lakes (5-9, 0-4).
On Saturday, Iowa Central plays at DMACC.
On Sunday, Iowa Lakes plays at Kirkwood.