By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM - On a day of celebration, the Martin Luther College softball team came through for its coach.
MLC swept Crown College 10-2 in six innings and 10-7 in a doubleheader of its regular-season conference finale on Saturday. MLC coach Barbara Leopold was honored between games for her 40 years of service at the school, which includes 37 as the head softball coach.
"We were definitely looking forward to this day," said MLC freshman Kelli Doell. "We knew that we would love to win for coach because it is such a special day for her."
At least 28 former players came out to honor Leopold for the ceremony between games.
"It was just amazing, I'm blown away," Leopold said. "I'm so humbled that they would even take the time out of their busy schedules with young families and everything to be here. It's great."
While wearing commemorative T-shirts with their numbers and last names on the back and Leopold's famous phrase "Oh Emma" on the front as jerseys, the Knights (15-16, 9-12 UMAC) struck early in Game 1 scoring five runs - all unearned - in the second inning and two in the third for a 7-0 lead.
The Storm (9-26, 7-14) managed to score two runs in the top of the fifth inning to pull to within five, but two more runs in the fifth and another in the sixth put the game away 10-2 for the Knights.
Kathryn Marquardt got the win in six innings pitched. Sara Willems went 4-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, while Emily Waldek and Caitlin Seastrand tallied two RBIs each.
Crown put up more of a fight in Game 2. In the top of the third inning, Crown scored six runs off MLC starting pitcher Kelli Doell to take a 6-2 lead.
"They just started hitting me, that happens every once in a while," Doell said. "But then Kathryn's always there in relief. Kathryn always does great, she saves me all the time so I appreciate her."
Doell played a major part in removing the "L" from beside her name in the bottom of the third inning, when she blasted a bases-loaded, three-run triple to right-center that sneaked past the outfielders as the runs made it home.
"She's a good hitter and she's really been coming on," Leopold said of Doell. "I don't think she was trying to hit a triple. I always just tell them to just meet the ball - a base hit is a base hit; I don't care whether it's a single, double, triple or home run, just move people around."
Doell then officially secured the no-decision for herself in scoring off an RBI triple by Seastrand in the next at-bat to tie the game 6-6.
The Knights scored four more runs to total 20 for the day, which was key in fighting for a spot in the four-team UMAC tournament.
"We stressed before the game that we could not leave anybody on base," Doell said. "I think we did a good job of getting people across home plate today."
Marquardt got the win for the Knights in Game 2, having allowed one earned run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched to improve to 9-8 on the season.
MLC ends its season with a nonconference doubleheader against St. Olaf on Monday at home.
Crown 000 020 - 2 6 4
MLC 052 021 - 10 13 3
Petkau, C Beers (3) and Willis; Marquardt and Biedenbender.
W - Marquardt (8-8) 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.33 ERA
L - Petkau (3-6) 2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 7.00 ERA
Leading hitters - Crown: Petkau 2-3 1 RBI, Brondsema 1-2, Sawyer 1-2 1 R, Ebbers 0-2 1 RBI 1 R; MLC: Waldek 1-4 2 RBI 1 R, Biedenbender 2-4 3 R, Willems 4-4 1 RBI 1 R, Seastrand 2-3 2 RBI 1 R, Kumbier 2-3 1 RBI 1 R.
Crown 006 000 1 - 7 10 3
MLC 204 301 x - 10 9 1
Willis and McLaughlin; Doell, Marquardt (3) and Biedenbender.
W - Marquardt (9-8) 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1.50 ERA
L - Willis (4-9) 6 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 8.17 ERA
ND - Doell (M) 2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 15.02 ERA
Leading hitters - Crown: Brondsema 2-4 3 RBI 1 R, Sawyeer 2-4 1 RBI 1 R, McLaughlin 2-4 1 RBI, K Beers 2-2 1 RBI 1 R; MLC: Waldek 4-4 4 R, Couture 2-4 2 R, Mendolla 1-3 2 RBI 1 R, Doell 1-3 3 RBI 1 R.