MANKATO, Minn. – The Carleton College softball team took part in the MIAC Playoffs for the first time on Friday. The Knights were the No. 9 seed in field and opened pool play with an 11-2 triumph over fourth-seeded Saint Mary’s University. Carleton could not hold a late lead against No. 5 seed Gustavus Adolphus College and was unable to advance out of the pool play stage.
Because none of the teams able to play their full allotment of conference games, the MIAC announced last week a format change—for this season only—that permitted all 12 teams to participate in the conference tournament. The new format featured four three-team pools playing round-robin games on Friday, with the four first-place teams advancing from each pool into a four-team, double-elimination tournament on May 4-5.
The only upsets in the pool play round both came in Pool D, the group that included the Knights. No. 4 Saint Mary’s lost to both No. 5 Gustavus and No. 9 Carleton.
The Knights (14-19) matched their season high with 11 runs in the opening contest. Jenny Ramey (Jr./Cottage Grove, Minn./New Life Academy) got Carleton going early by drawing a game-opening walk, stealing two bases and scoring in front of Kelsey Parsons (Sr./Golden Valley, Minn./Hopkins) on a two-run double by Kaitlin Bagley (Jr./Duluth Minn./Denfield).
The Cardinals got a run back in the bottom of the frame, but Knights pitcher Keelin Davis (Fy./Woodinville, Wash./Woodinville) collected a bases-loaded strikeout to end the inning and spark a huge momentum shift.
Claire Willeck (So./ Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) led off the next half inning with her first collegiate home run. The Knights scored three more times in the frame, with Bagley delivering another two-run double that made the score 6-1.
Ramey added to the lead with a solo home run to start the fourth inning, and Carleton tallied three more runs to bring the score to 10-1. Ramey went deep again in the fifth, the solo shot accounting for her second career two-homer game. The three home runs marked the most by Carleton in any game over the last decade.
Saint Mary’s tried to mount a two-out rally, but it was too little, too late as the Knights prevailed 11-2 in five innings. Davis struck out seven over her 5.0 innings of work as she notched her seventh victory of the season, the highest total by a Carleton rookie over at least the last 15 campaigns.
After a slow start, the Knights got rolling in game two against Gustavus Adolphus. Trailing 2-0 in the third, Carleton scratched out three runs on five hits. Davis drove home another run in the fifth, and Ramey plated another in the sixth as the Knights now possessed a 5-3 advantage.
A trio of errors in the bottom of the frame ultimately doomed Carleton as the Gusties capitalized to score four times. The Knights scored once in the seventh and had the tying and go-ahead runners aboard when the final out was recorded.
Katrina Harper (Jr./Columbia Heights, Minn./Columbia Heights) was 4-for-4 in game two, scoring three times. Parsons and Davis paced the squad with two RBI apiece.
Gustavus won the pool with an 8-4 victory in the night’s final contest. The Gusties will face top seeded University of St. Thomas in the opening round of the double-elimination part of the playoffs.
Carleton finished the year with 14 victories, equaling their highest total over the last nine seasons.