Lady Norse run record to 41-3

Tim Downer

After coming off a split of their two games against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Saturday, the Northern Kentucky University softball team bounced back to take two games from the University of Missouri-St. Louis April 18 at Frank Ignatius Grein Softball Field.

NKU’s offense exploded in the first inning when the Norse, ranked first in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region, scored seven runs off of UMSL pitcher Emily Wagoner.

“We just hit the ball well,” Coach Kathy Bown said. “We didn’t have a very good day offensively yesterday.

“We came out hitting well today, which we needed. The two games yesterday against [Southern Illinois University] Edwardsville, we didn’t play our kind of ball. We did not play to the level we were capable of playing.”

Sophomore Ricki Rothbauer led the bottom half of the first to get the NKU offense started.

Junior Stephanie Leimbach followed with a single, followed with a hit by junior Angie Lindeman, which plated the first run of the game.

Junior Megan Owens followed up with an RBI single. Then a single by sophomore Heather Cotner increased NKU’s lead to 3-0.

Junior Sara Becker singled and sophomore Rachele Vogelpohl was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

With two outs, sophomore Kara Lorenz hit a shot that soared over USML right fielder Jen Schatz’s head, scoring all three base runners, and increasing NKU’s lead to 6-0.

Rothbauer became the 10th NKU batter of the inning, and drove in Lorenz, increasing the Norse lead to 7-0.

The first inning run support was more than enough for NKU sophomore pitcher Krystal Lewallen, who gave up only three hits and struck out four batters in the five innings she pitched.

“[Lewallen’s] a competitor.” Coach Bown said. “She pitched very well. She went out and did what she’s capable of doing, and it’s not a surprise because we expect her to do that.

“I’m sure yesterday’s loss kind of stung her. She definitely wanted to prove herself today.”

The Norse protected the lead throughout the game, and a Lindeman home run to right field in the fourth inning proved to be the dagger to UMSL.It was Lindeman’s fourth home run of the season and upped her RBI total to 40 on the season.

After Lewallen and the NKU defense recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fifth, the game was called.

The win boosted Lewallen’s season record to 23-2 and dropped Wagoner to 10-14.

The second game was closer, but ended with the same result.

With the score tied at two in the fifth inning, a double by freshman Becky Napier drove home three runs.

Behind pitchers Emily Breitholle and Sarah Newland, NKU won the second game with 5-2.

The win put Breitholle’s record at 12-1 for the season, and Newland recorded her first save of the year.

After the games, NKU’s record improved to 41-3 for the season and kept them atop the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a record of 13-1.

The Lady Norse take on Bellarmine and St. Joseph’s on the road this week, before returning home to take on Indianapolis this weekend in a double header.