The Buena Vista University softball team will take the field on Thursday afternoon, May 3, to open the 2012 Iowa Conference Softball Tournament. This year’s tournament is hosted by the league’s top-seed, Luther College, in Decorah. The Beavers, who enter as the tournament’s sixth-seed, will open against third-seed Simpson College (27-13, 10-6 IIAC) in a 12:00pm contest.
The two teams split a doubleheader to close out the regular season this past Saturday in Indianola. The Storm scored a pair of unearned runs in the early going to edge BVU, 2-0, in the opener, before a late-game offensive outbreak sent the Beavers to a 6-0 shutout in the finale.
Buena Vista (17-15) is making its sixth appearance all-time in the league tournament and just the third since the tournament was reinstated in 2006 (there was no conference tournament from (1987-2005). The team is 5-8 all-time in the tournament, including the 1984 championship. It’ll also be only the third meeting against Simpson in the conference tournament. BVU topped the Storm, 2-0, back in 1984 before the Storm edged the Beavers, 6-4, in 1986.
Thursday’s match-up features a Beaver team which posted the third-highest batting average in the league during Iowa Conference play (.266) and a Simpson offense which is close behind at .256. BVU edged the Storm in total IIAC runs scored (56-55) and ranked fourth. Both teams have pitching staff ERA’s under 3.00.
Offensively, sophomore Sam Engleman (Hawarden, Iowa/West Sioux), who is hitting .320 overall, tied for fourth with 12 runs scored during IIAC games, while ranking second in total bases (29). Senior Chancey Wilcke (Battle Creek, Iowa/Battle Creek-Ida Grove) also posted five doubles in those games, which tied for the second-most. Freshman Stephanie Hayden (Prairie City, Iowa/PCM), who started all 31 games she played in, has led the way at the plate overall for BVU this season, hitting .354 with five doubles and three triples. She’s also 6-for-6 in stolen bases. Brooke Berkey (Colfax, Iowa/Colfax-Mingo) is right behind at .339, including four doubles, while scoring a team-high 24 runs.
Wilcke holds a stellar 1.93 ERA against IIAC foes this season and has pitched the second-highest number of innings during that span (98). Her six walks allowed are also the fewest in conference play.
Defensively, the Beavers were tops in the league in total chances, assists and put-outs during conference play this season, and their five double plays turned ranked second. The Beavers also threw out a league-high eight base stealers, which doubles the league’s second-most.
The winner of Thursday’s Buena Vista/Simpson match-up will turn around and play later that afternoon at 4:00pm against second-seed Central College. The loser will play again at 10:00am on Friday against a team to be determined.
The Iowa Conference champion earns the league’s automatic berth into the 2012 NCAA Championships.
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.