The Carthage softball team is facing an uphill battle to win the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament after splitting a pair of games Friday in Bloomington, Ill.
After opening the double-elimination tourney with a 6-1 victory over third-seeded North Central (26-13), No. 2 seed Carthage fell 7-3 to top seed and tourney host Illinois Wesleyan (32-7).
Carthage (25-13) will take on No. 4 seed Wheaton in an elimination game 10 a.m. today. The winner will need to defeat Wesleyan twice in a row to capture the tourney championship.
Stefanie Guercio (17-4) pitched a gem for the Reds in the opener, allowing just an unearned run and two hits while striking out eight and walking two over seven innings.
Carthage did all of its damage in the fifth and sixth innings, including Emmily Zinkiewicz’s RBI single that plated Danielle Koziczkowski for a 1-0 lead. Donna Stevens delivered the key hit of the game, a three-run double that padded Carthage’s lead to 5-0 in the fifth, and scored on Naomi Alonzo’s double.
The Reds finished with seven hits and capitalized on a pair of North Central errors.
Carthage scored three runs in the first three innings, but was held scoreless the rest of the way in the loss to Wesleyan.
Alonzo (6-5) started for the Reds and gave up five runs and seven hits over two innings. Wesleyan padded its lead to 7-3 with solo runs in the fifth and sixth.
Stevens had three of Carthage’s eight hits and scored a run. Ellie Bernero and Brooke Sefcik each went 2-for-3 with a run and a RBI.
Illinois Wesleyan 4,
Wesleyan scored three times in the bottom of the first inning, and that proved to be more than enough offense to drop the Red Men to 17-21 and 7-15 in the CCIW.
Carthage had four hits, one each by Kyle Engstrom, Myles Farley, Johnny Belskis and Ben Levicki.
Starting pitcher Matt Willett took the loss, as he allowed three hits, two earned runs, three walks and struck out two in two innings on the mound.
Carthage closes its season today with a noon doubleheader against Wesleyan.
Carthage shot a 297 in Friday’s second round to move into second place at Short Hills Country Club in East Moline, Ill.
Heading into today’s final round, the Red Men trail tourney leader Illinois Wesleyan by 13 strokes with a 596.
Carthage’s Ben Alt and Tyler Muschewske each carded a 74 in the first two rounds for fifth place overall.
The Red Men’s Jordan Knutson (ninth place) and Zachary Shawhan (tied for 10th) are also among the top 10, while teammate Joe Vath is in 12th place.
Today’s action tees off at 8 a.m. at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
Track and field
Senior Rhashad Gray led the UW-Parkside men’s team to a seventh-place finish at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
Gray placed fourth in the high jump and sixth in the 100-meter dash in 10.82 seconds and 200 in 21.82. He also teamed with Bronson Esteves, Jeremy Steward and Jacob Pigeon to take fifth in the 400 relay in 42.27 and finished eighth in the 1,600 relay with Jimmy Funteas Jr., Zach Kiedrowski and Pigeon in 3:26.45.
The Rangers finished with 22 points. Grand Valley State (263), Ashland (214) and Northwood (102) rounded out the top three teams.
Pigeon (48.95, 400 dash) and Brock Eves (15:00.11, 5,000 run) turned in sixth-place performances for Parkside. Funteas (1:57), Donny Knapp (9:49.45) and Joey Eterno (32:46.05) finished ninth in the 800 run, 3,000 steeplechase and 10,000 run, respectively.
The Parkside women’s team took 10th place with eight points. Grand Valley State topped the field with 282, followed by Ashland (140) and Northern Michigan (118).
Amanda Johnson sparked the Rangers with a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 run in 4:42.29. Grace Bitangalo placed sixth in the long jump, Katie Adams finished eighth in the javelin throw and Rebecca Jasutis (11:46.39) took 10th in the 3,000 steeplechase.
“Overall we had an up-and-down day to close out the final day of the GLIAC Outdoor Championships,” Parkside coach Thomas Breitbach said. “We took a lot out of our three championship experiences this year in our new conference.
“As we continue looking to reach our true potential as a program, we are excited to climb through the ranks of one of the best track conferences in the nation.”
The top-seeded Vikings kept their perfect conference record intact with a shutout win over the fifth-seeded Red Men (15-10, 3-4 CCIW) in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament semifinals in Decatur, Ill.
Augustana (23-6, 7-0) won all three doubles matches, including a narrow 8-7 victory over Tripp Schulte and Andre Antreassian at No. 1. The Vikings secured the win with victories at No. 2 and No. 6 singles.
Carthage (15-10, 3-4) will take on North Central in the tourney’s third-place match at 11:30 a.m. today.
and Dan Truttschel