Junior second baseman Alyssa Dunrud’s impressive day at the plate and sophomore left-handed pitcher Kirstin Bigelbach’s five-inning perfect game in game two guided the first-place St. Thomas softball team (23-5, 10-0 MIAC) to an 8-5, 8-0 sweep of St. Mary’s Wednesday at home.
The win runs the Tommies’ conference streak to 52 games, and the team has won its last 12 games in a row.
Dunrud went four-for-four in the first game and helped the Tommies come back after the Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
In her first at bat, Dunrud scored in the bottom of the first to give the Tommies their first run of the game.
Dunrud said she did not expect St. Mary’s to jump out to an early lead but knew her team would answer right back.
“I felt pretty nervous at first, but once we started getting runs, the momentum came our way,” Dunrud said.
The second baseman’s hitting streak continued when she started the second inning with an RBI that brought sophomore outfielder Tisa Phinney home and gave St. Thomas a 3-2 lead.
In addition to scoring on a hit by Dunrud, Phinney went two-for-three, including a game-changing home run in the fourth inning that tied the game at 4-4.
Phinney said she felt poised at the plate.
“I felt pretty relaxed and confident up there, just taking some hacks,” Phinney said.
Coach John Tschida was proud of the outfielder’s powerful swing.
“That one was right on the money,” Tschida said. “That’s the kind of power she has.”
With the score tied in the fourth inning, the Tommies broke the game open in the fifth and sixth. Dunrud singled to get on base in the fifth, and sophomore designated hitter Emily Gregory homered to left field, adding two runs.
In the sixth, sophomore shortstop Jenna Hoffman and sophomore third baseman Brooke Selisker scored for the Tommies, extending their lead to the final score of 8-5.
“It just took awhile to string some hits together and pull some runs across,” Dunrud said. “It wasn’t the most clean game we played, we just kinda took a while to get in the groove.”
St. Thomas dominated St. Mary’s in the second game of the matchup with the help of Bigelbach’s perfect game.
Bigelbach faced 15 batters and held St. Mary’s hitless without recording a single strikeout.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team behind me,” Bigelbach said. “I just hit my spots, and they made the plays.”
Though Bigelbach was the star, St. Thomas’ defense was also instrumental.
“It’s a matter of coming through. I think that’s the key,” Tschida said.
St. Thomas was held scoreless until the third inning when the team put five runs on the board.
The Tommies had five hits in the inning from Dunrud, Gregory, sophomore first baseman Genevieve Duffy and sophomore outfielder Maggie Briesmeister. The last hit was another homer from Phinney, a grand slam that brought in four of the five runs.
“I thought to myself about all the hard work we’ve done all that we’ve been through,” Phinney said. “I just looked at that right field foul pole and remembered everything we have done, and that’s what did it for me today.”
Tschida called Phinney’s grand slam “a bomb.”
St. Thomas finished the game in the fifth inning with three more runs on hits by Briesmeister, Phinney and Hoffman. These runs brought the score to 8-0, finalizing the game on the eight-run rule.
“I think the first game helped us because we were way too close to them,” Phinney said. “We usually dominate a lot, so in that second game playing Tommie softball is what we needed to do, and that’s what we did.”
This win leads the Tommies into their next game on Saturday, April 14, at home against Gustavus, who is currently tied for first place with the Tommies.
“It will be good for us, we need to play good teams all the time just to start getting battle ready,” Tschida said. “With all these young players they need to be in some battles and play some good teams. That will be good for us.”
Meghan Sheldon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.