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Freshman pitcher Kendra Bowe allowed just one run during 10 innings and guided the St. Thomas softball team (34-6, 21-1 MIAC) to 8-0 and 4-1 victories over St. Benedict’s (18-16, 10-12 MIAC) Monday, April 30, at home. The wins allowed the No. 16-ranked Tommies to secure the MIAC regular season championship and the top seed for next weekend’s conference playoffs.
After the second game, St. Thomas took time to honor its three senior players: third baseman Kayla Boward, pitcher/first baseman Kristen Feisel and pitcher Christy Gries. Boward did not play this season due to a back injury, but she was named the 2011 MIAC Player of the Year.
The team also celebrated the players’ parents with a short commemoration after the second game.
Bowe was the starting pitcher for the Tommies’ first game. The three-time MIAC Pitcher of the Week now has a 19-0 record and leads her team with a 1.18 ERA.
The Tommies broke the game open in the third inning, posting five consecutive hits that brought in four runs. Sophomore catcher Emily Gregory hit a two-run homer and was greeted by her team when she reached home plate. It was Gregory’s eighth home run of the season.
The Tommies also dominated the fifth and sixth innings. Junior second baseman Kimmy Hassel hit another two-run homer in the fifth and went 4-for-5 with a walk in the two games.
Two RBIs from Feisel and junior catcher Laura Pawlik in the sixth inning clinch the 8-0 victory for St. Thomas.
Gries took over for Bowe in the sixth inning and closed the game, holding the Bennies scoreless.
Coach John Tschida said he was impressed with the defense, especially with Bowe’s stellar play.
“Kendra threw great. We gave them a lot of strikeouts, and they’re a good team,” he said.
Sophomore pitcher Kristen Bigelbach started the second game, but the left-hander was replaced by Bowe in the second inning.
The Tommies got the bats going in the second inning, bringing in both Gregory and Hassel.
The Bennies responded with freshman designated hitter Mackenzie Wenner’s home run in the third, bringing her team to a 2-1 deficit. It was the only run Bowe allowed in either game.
Sophomore pinch hitter Genny Duffy responded in the fourth inning with a two-run homer, securing the Tommies’ lead at 4-1.
The victories extended St. Thomas’ home winning streak to 29 games.
Tschida said he is confident in his team’s play as the regular season comes to an end.
“Our pitching is great,” Tschida said. “Almost every out was a line-drive out. They weren’t all hits, but that means we’re hitting it.”
Bowe was also pleased with her 10-inning performance and the performance of her teammates.
“We came out and hit well and played really great (defense),” Bowe said.
Bowe said that the team doesn’t plan on changing any aspect of how it plays before playoffs.
“We’re going to keep doing the same thing,” Bowe said. “We want everyone to click and play a good game, and we want to continue to do that as we keep getting closer to playoffs.”
Anastasia Straley can be reached at email@example.com.