Wildcats sweep St. Cloud, take first in NSIC


Wayne State’s softball team swept St. Cloud State on Sunday afternoon and, with the help of a sweep by Minnesota Duluth against Augustana, took over first place in the Northern Sun Conference with one week to go in the 2016 regular season.
The Wildcats beat the Huskies in St. Cloud, Minn., taking the opener 6-5 and winning an 11-inning thriller in the nightcap, 5-3, to improve to 25-20 overall and 19-5 in the NSIC with six conference games left in the season.
In the first game, Wayne State led 6-1 in the seventh when the Huskies came back to score four runs on a grand slam home run, but came up a run short.
The Wildcats got three in the third on a two-run single by Emily Chandler and a Sam O’Brien groundout. They added two more in the fifth on Chanlder’s two-run homer to center, then put up a run in the seventh when Lexie Loos scored on a sacrifice fly by Abbie Hix.
Cassy Miller got the win wit the complete-game effort, striking out nine and allowing nine hits and one walk. Loos went 3-for-4 and scored twice, while Chandler had two hits and four RBI’s and Katelyn Wobken added two hits scored twice.
The second game went to extra innings before the Wildcats came away with the sweep. Wayne State scored two in the first when Wobken tripled and scored on a Hix single, with Hix coming home on an O’Brien double.
St. Cloud scored one in the second and two in the fourth to take a 3-2 advantage, but Loos singled and scored on an O’Brien single in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3 and send it into extra innings.
Neither team scored until the 11th when the Wildcats broke through for two runs. Rachel Shumaker singled and scored on a single by Wobken, and Hix brought home Loos with an RBI groundout for the final run of the game.
Miller pitched 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get the win. O’Brien and Hix led a 15-hit attack with both recording three hits and two RBI’s. Shumaker had three hits and Loos and Wobken both had two hits.
With the wins, the Wildcats improved to 25-20 overall and 19-5 in the NSIC. They are one-half game ahead of both Augustana and Minnesota State heading into the final week of the regular season.
Wayne State faces three key conference doubleheaders this week. They will play at Upper Iowa, currently in fourth and one game behind the Wildcats, in a 1:30 p.m. doubleheader Tuesday in Fayette, Iowa. They close the week with three home doubleheaders, including a rescheduled inter-state doubleheader with Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday at 2 p.m., followed by 12 p.m. doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday against Minnesota State and Concordia-St. Paul at the Chapman Complex.