RIPON, Wis. — The Lawrence University softball team swept Ripon College on Sunday and earned a berth in the Midwest Conference Tournament in the process.
Lawrence (19-13, 7-7 MWC) won the opener 3-1 and took the nightcap 4-2.
The Vikings will be the No. 2 seed from the North Division when the tournament begins Friday. St. Norbert College won the North Division and will host the tournament. This is Lawrence’s first appearance in the MWC Tournament since the Vikings went five consecutive seasons from 2002-06.
Lawrence entered Sunday’s play knowing it needed a sweep of the games to advance to the MWC Tournament, and the Vikings got a standout pitching performance in the opener. Shannon Murray tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out four and walking one.
Murray went 2-for-3 and drove in a run and Anna Wawiorka also picked up a pair of hits for the Vikings.
The Vikings got on the board with an unearned run in the third. After Cathy Kaye reached on error and moved to second on the play, she scored on Murray’s single to put Lawrence up 1-0.
The Vikings added two more runs in the fourth for a 3-0 edge. Taylor Dodson got things stared with a walk and pinch-runner Gaelen Lombard-Knapp then scored on Cory Paquette’s double. After an error put sunners at the corners, Kaye singled to score Paquette.
Murray then shut Ripon (11-17, 5-9) down, retiring the Red Hawks in order in teh sixth and seventh to secure the victory.
In the nightcap, Murray and Kara Vance combined to hold off the Red Hawks. Murray made the start and went three-plus innings. Vance came on in relief to stop what could have been a big inning in the fourth.
Lawrence had taken a 3-0 in the top half of the inning when Dodson singled with the bases loaded. Mary Diduch and Alex Chiodo scored and a Ripon error allowed Alissa Geipel to also score on the play.
Ripon got two hits off Murray in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 3-1 when Vance came in. Another run scored on a groundout, and the Vikings led 3-2.
Lawrence got a run back in the top of the fifth when Kaye singled and later scored on Murray’s single to push the lead to 4-2.
After Vance gave up a two-out single in the seventh, Murray came back in to pitch and got a popup to end the game.
Murray went 3-for-4 in the nightcap and drove in a run. Dodson and Kaye both had two hits and Dodson drove in a pair of runs.