MOORHEAD, Minn. (4/27/09)--
Concordia fastpitch softball has a new single season undisputed strikeout queen. Cobber freshman Kesley Jones fanned five batters in the first game of CC's series with Bethel to break the school record for K's in a season. Jones now has 142 on the season and eclipsed the old mark of 141 set by Erin Gunderson in 2000.
Concordia was unable to give Jones the win in the opener as they fell 5-3 but then came back in the second game to win 3-2 behind the pitching of Erin Johnson who threw six shutout innings in her return to the mound after being injured two weeks ago. The split pushes the Cobbers' overall season record to 12-22 and they are now 7-13 in league play. Bethel, who had already clinched a spot in the MIAC playoffs, finishes the regular season with a 23-17 overall mark and a 14-8 record in the MIAC.
Jones entered the day needing five strikeouts to set the season record and it looked as if that would go down sooner rather than later. Jones struck out two hitters in the opening inning and then added one more in the second. Unfortunately she wouldn't record her fourth K until the sixth inning. However from the second to the sixth, Jones was practically untouchable as she allowed only a single run in the fourth on a solo home run by Bethel single-season long ball record holder Kelly Berg. That run tied the game after Concordia had posted a run in the first when Maddie Haroldson doubled home Nicolle Diekman.
Bethel won the game in the sixth inning when they plated three runners, two of which came on a home run by Lauren Habisch. That brought the score to 4-2. The Royals then added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases. That frame also saw Jones break the record when she struck out Kelsey Simmons for the first out of the inning.
Concordia nearly tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Cobbers loaded the bases with one out and then Amanda Michaelson singled home the team's third run of the game. Unfortunately CC was not able to come up with another clutch hit and an infield fly and a strike out ended the first game.
The second game turned into a pitcher's dual between Concordia's Erin Johnson and the Royals' Charitey Rowden. Both pitchers did not allow a run through the first five innings and both were able to work out of jams along the way.
The Cobbers finally broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning when Emily Jensen singled down the right field line and then stole second and then third. On her stolen base at third the ball caromed off of the Bethel third baseman and rolled down the line in left field. Jensen then got up and scored the opening run of the game. CC would then tack on two more runs in the inning behind a sacrifice fly from Sara Gruber and a clutch single to deep short from pitcher Erin Johnson. That run would eventually be the game winner as Bethel posted two runs in the top of the seventh.
In the seventh, Johnson looked like she would pitch a shutout in her first game since appearing on Apr. 14 when she suffered an injury. She got the first two batters out on ground balls to the shortstop and second baseman. The Royals then put the next five batters on base and scored two runs to cut the lead to 3-2. With the bases loaded and two out, Lisa Patnode hit a hard grounder to Emily Salo at third base. Salo dove to make the stop and then had the presence of mind to turn and dive back towards the base to tag the runner coming from second base on the leg. The tag play ended the game and gave Concordia the split.
Jensen led the Cobber offensive attack all day long. She went 3-for-3 in the second game and finished the series 4-for-5. In the opener she hit a triple to left center field that broke the program record for triples in a season. Jensen now has six triples on the year, breaking the old mark of five set by Kelly Holecek in 1994.
Concordia will finish off the 2009 season on Tuesday, Apr., 28 when they host St. Kate's at 4 p.m.