Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON – After playing the season’s first 30 games away from River Queen Field, the Ashford University softball team hosted its 2013 home opener Sunday afternoon and swept Lindenwood-Belleville 4-2 and 10-2.
“Before today it felt like our road trip was never going to end,” coach Kevin Jannusch said. “Our kids played relaxed knowing that we would be seeing plenty of familiar faces. You always want to perform in front of your home crowd, and we were able to do just that today.”
Junior Nicole Interrante finished the day with five RBIs, including her first career grand slam in Game 2. Alex Bitto, Ashley Soos and Shelby Hobelman also homered for the Saints on a day where a strong wind was blowing out to left field.
The Saints snapped a three-game skid to improve to 16-16, while Lindenwood-Belleville fell to 16-17.
The Saints snapped a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning in the opener, getting run-scoring singles from Hobelman and Britnee Dobbs to reclaim a two run lead.
Lindenwood got a lead-off home run to open the second game, but the Saints battled back to take the lead in the bottom of the second when Soos blasted a two-run homer over the left-field fence.
The Saints put the game away with six-run fourth that included Interrante’s slam that pushed the lead to 9-2.
Baseball team splits
MOUNT PLEASANT – Closing out a four-game weekend set, the Ashford University baseball team visited former Midwest Collegiate Conference foe Iowa Wesleyan on Sunday and split with the Tigers. Ashford stumbled in the opener, falling 4-2, before responding with a 9-6 win in the weekend finale.
Senior infielder Damil Reyes went 4-of-7 at the plate during the doubleheader, while freshman John Caravia posted a 4-of-4 effort in Game 2 as AU improved to 20-12.
Despite matching the Tigers with seven hits, the Saints couldn’t get much offense rolling in the opener. Ashford took a brief lead with one run in the second before Iowa Wesleyan scored two in the bottom half of the inning and two more in the fourth to win the low-scoring tilt.
Reyes drove in the first run with a double in the second, while right fielder Mike Johnson pushed across Michael Bruns in the sixth.
Junior Steve Sotiropoulous was saddled with the loss for the Saints after tossing a complete-game seven-hitter. The right-hander fell to 5-2, striking out four and allowing three earned runs.
The Saints wasted little time getting things going in Game 2, scoring a run in the first before notching three in the second and one more in the third to open a 5-0 lead.
Left fielder Kyler Kopach followed up back-to-back singles in the first and scored Caravia from third on a fielder’s choice. Then, after an R.J. Roberts leadoff home run in the second, Bruns drove home Reyes with a double and was followed upby a Caravia single that brought around Bruns to give AU a 4-0 advantage.
Reyes drove across Kopach in the third before the Tigers lit the scoreboard with three runs in the third to make it a 5-3 contest.
Petey Mroz scored in the fourth, but IWC used three more runs in the fifth to tie the contest at 6-6.
AU reliever McKinley Portice gave up just one more hit the rest of the way as the Saints scratched across a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to win.
Caravia plated Mroz in the sixth before a two-run home run from designated hitter Ryan Fraley iced the contest for the Saints in the seventh.
The Saints return home Tuesday, when the team hosts Clarke University in a single, nine-inning clash at 5 p.m. at Ashford University Field.
Women golfers 4th
MARION – The Ashford women’s golf team moved up one spot Sunday and finished fourth at the Mount Mercy Spring Invitational at Hunters Ridge Golf Course.
The Saints shot rounds of 367 and 369 for a 736 total.
Junior Courtney Gieseman posted her highest finish of the spring, taking ninth place with a score of 175 (89-86). She was joined in the top-20 by freshman Chantel Eicher, who placed 19th with a 181 (91-90).
Another junior, Haley Knutti, tied for 32nd with a 190 in her first action of the spring. Freshman Taylor Stewart tied for 41st with a 196, while sophomore Katelyn Gille’s 202 completed the Ashford scoring.
Truman State University (Mo.) improved by 10 shots on Sunday to win the tournament with a team total of 678 (344-334), 20 strokes better than second-place Grand View University.
The Bulldogs also boasted the tournament medalist, Jessica Tomash, as her two-round total of 163 (83-80) was enough to hold off Grand View’s Kenzie Rottinghaus by four shots.
AU claims 4 1sts
DECORAH – The Ashford men put together their best points day of the 2013 outdoor season, scoring 70 to finish third Saturday at Norse Relays, while the women placed sixth with 38 points.
Field events proved to be the bright spot of the day for the Saints as the men’s team boasted three event champions and grabbed two more second-place marks in non-running competitions.
Sophomore Mike Malone continued his recent dominance in men’s long jump action by posting a first-place finish with a leap of 6.55 meters.
Teammate Fuad Agoro matched the finish in the men’s high jump after clearing 1.83 meters, while Spencer Touchie won the shot put with a throw of 14.78 meters, besting the second-place toss from teammate Jaryd Prince (13.89).
Damon Overton earned second-place points in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 12.52 meters.
In women’s action, the Saints field representation was led by a third-place finish from Haley Fischer in the pole vault. She cleared 2.90 meters.
Ashford picked up an individual champion in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Nichole Johnson won the race with a time of 15.54 seconds.
In men’s action, distance specialist Brian Meyer took third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:06.77.
Ashford also claimed a trio of top three finishes in relay events.