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IWU softball advances to bracket finals

WILDCATS: IWU’s Addie Benham watches a pitch to an Oregon Tech hitter in the Wildcats’ 4-1 loss to Oregon Tech Tuesday morning in the winner’s bracket final of the NAIA National Softball Tournament.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

The Indiana Wesleyan softball team got a strong pitching performance from sophomore Addie Benham to stave off elimination in the NAIA National Tourney Tuesday evening.

Benham twirled a complete game scattering seven hits and picking up three strikeouts to lead the No. 13 Wildcats to a 5-2 win over Central Baptist (Arkanas) and into the championship today against Oregon Tech at 11 a.m.

The ‘Cats fell to the Owls 4-1 earlier on Tuesday and will need two wins to earn a trip back to the NAIA Softball World Series in Springfield, Missouri starting on May 23.

IWU plated the game’s first two runs in the top of the second inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Mackenzie Brown and Rebecca Schrad against Central Baptist. The game was a rematch from Monday’s opening game, a 6-5, eight inning win over the Mustangs on Sydney Williams walkoff home run.

The Wildcats then added two more runs in the sixth when Victoria Boyer scored from first on a throwing error after Sydney Lowe’s bunt attempt. Lowe advanced to third on the play and scored on a Trinity Medina base hit.

Miranda Wehrle capped IWU’s scoring with a titanic home run to right center field leading off the seventh.

Central scored single runs in the fourth and seventh innings, but Benham and an errorless performance from the Wildcats’ defense stranded seven runners on base.

Medina had two of Indiana Wesleyan’s six hits and also reached on a walk. Four different Wildcats drove in runs.

Timely hitting proved to be the difference in IWU’s loss to No. 10 Oregon Tech.

The Owls got it and the Wildcats did not.

Oregon Tech had 12 base its, all singles, with four coming in each the third and fifth innings when the Owls scored two runs in each frame.

The Wildcats managed just four hits and drew three walks off of Tech pitcher Sarah Abramson. But Abramson finished with 10 strikeouts and got a near flawless defensive effort behind her.

“They had a better approach. Our strategy was sound,” Babinski said of his team’s offensive output. “Often we were sitting in a count with two strikes without swinging.

Brown had two of IWU’s hits, including an RBI triple in the sixth inning to drive home Wehrle who had singled leading off the inning. Brown also doubled in the fourth. Boyer had a single for the Wildcats only other hit.

“Once you find a hitters weakness for that moment, its up to the hitter to adjust,” Babinski said. If she can be pinpoint, great job for her. No reason for (Abramson) to change what (she’s) doing if you’re not adjusting. We just had a really good talke and I think you’re going to see a little bit more aggressive of a Wildcat team.”

Mckenzey Ridge allowed six hits and two runs over her three innings in the circle for the Wildcats. Benham twirled two innings and surrendered five hits and a pair of runs. Hannah Miller gave up one hit in a scoreless sixth.

“We had a hard a time putting a ball to the catcher with a called strike,” he added. “They swung but a lot of base hits... Hitting is a little bit contagious and I like our chances against them. I want another try and I would love to have two more tries against them.”