The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) softball team captured the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) championship after winning four of six games April 21-23.
Included in the wins was a key split of a doubleheader with Kirkwood Community College (KCC), the top-ranked team in the National Junior College Athletic Conference (NJCAA) Division II poll, on April 21. The Bears, ranked fifth in the NJCAA Division II poll, dropped the opener against KCC, 2-1, but won the nightcap, 8-5. DMACC then took a doubleheader from Iowa Central Community College (ICCC) on April 22, winning by scores of 2-0 and 8-1, and closed out the regular season by dividing a doubleheader with Southwestern Community College (SWCC) April 23, losing the opener, 6-2, and winning the second game, 10-0.
DMACC and KCC shared the ICCC title with 24-2 records, but the Bears were given the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NJCAA Region XI-A Softball Tournament after allowing the fewest runs in their two-game series with the Eagles. DMACC closed the regular season at 41-7 overall. KCC is the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Region XI-B Softball Tournament.
The Bears collected just six hits in losing the opener to KCC on April 21. Freshman Bailey Richards of Des Moines drove in a run in the bottom of the fifth to give DMACC a 1-0 lead, but KCC responded with two runs in the top of the sixth to get the win. Freshman Molly Jacobsen of Adel allowed two runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked three in suffering the loss.
Richards had three hits and freshman Bre Hunter of Boone had two hits and drove in three runs to lead the Bears to their win in the second game. DMACC trailed 4-1 after two innings, but scored five times in the bottom of the third to lead 6-4. KCC made it a 6-5 game with a run in the top of the sixth, but the Bears responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to get the win.
Sophomores Claire Dudek of Urbandale, Kerigan Torres of Des Moines and Megan Rushing of West Des Moines and freshman Taylor Briley of Creston joined Hunter with two hits apiece in the win, including a home run by Rushing. Dudek, Rushing, Richards, Briley and sophomore Taylor Creason of Lee’s Summit, Mo., drove in runs for the Bears.
Sophomore Ashley Sicard of Ackley pitched the first three innings, allowing four runs on five hits. She walked three batters. Jacobsen worked the last four innings, allowing one run on six hits and came away with the win. She struck out six batters.
Jacobsen allowed four hits and struck out 10 in leading DMACC past ICCC April 22 at Fort Dodge. She also had two hits in the win and got support from Creason and Hunter, who each homered. Torres joined Jacobsen with two hits in the win.
The Bears opened up a 4-0 lead in the first inning of the second game and coasted to the win with runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings. Rushing had three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs in the win. Sophomore Kenzi Sutton of Adel had a pair of hits, including a home run.
Sicard pitched the first five innings and earned the win, allowing one run on five hits. She struck out seven and walked one. Freshman Autumn McDanel of Moravia pitched two innings, allowing three hits and striking out one batter.
SWCC tallied three runs in the third and fourth innings to hand the Bears a 6-2 loss in the opener April 23 at Creston. Briley had two hits in the loss and freshman Abby Gehringer of Indianola hit a home run and had two RBIs.
Sicard went the distance and suffered the loss. She allowed six runs on seven hits, struck out 10 and walked one.
McDanel threw a one-hitter and struck out three as DMACC took the second game. Creason homered and drove in three runs in the win and Gehringer, Sutton, Hunter and McDanel had two hits apiece. DMACC opened up a 6-0 lead in the first inning and put the game away with two runs in the second and one each in the third and fourth innings. The game was called because of the mercy rule after SWCC batted in the bottom of the fifth.
DMACC will host North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in the first round of the NJCAA Region XI-A Softball Tournament April 28 at the DMACC softball diamond. ICCC and Northeast (Neb.) Community College (NECC) make up the other half of the bracket. The double-elimination tournament continues with games on April 29 and 30 when the championship game is scheduled to be played at noon. A second championship game, if necessary, would be played immediately following the first championship game.
DMACC swept NIACC, ICCC and NECC this season.
The NJCAA Region XI-A champion will advance to the NJCAA District G Softball Tournament May 12 and 13 at the home of the Region XI-A champion. The District G champion will advance to the NJCAA Division II Softball Championship May 17 to 20 at Clinton, Miss.