VCC softball team splits with Hibbing

by Tom Coombe

The Vermilion Ironwomen won one slugfest and lost another Tuesday at Hibbing.<BR><BR>Six Vermilion players rapped out two hits each as the community college softball team beat the Cardinals 8-6 in the first game of the Northern Division twinbill.<BR><BR>And despite a four-for-four performance by Heather Santi and three hits by Ely native Andrea Whiting in the nightcap, the Ironwomen were unable to keep up with Hibbing’s bats and fell 22-14.<BR><BR>Vermilion, which wraps up regular season play this week, is 5-13 for the season.<BR><BR>Both games had twists and turns, with the Ironwomen prevailing at the end of the first game and Hibbing countering in the second.<BR><BR>VCC took a 6-1 lead with a six-run second inning, but the Cardinals tied it at six by the end of the fifth.<BR><BR>That set the stage for the Ironwomen in the sixth, when Whiting singled home fellow Elyite Cara Bigelow for the go-ahead run. Linnea Branstrom brought home an insurance run with a hit of her own, and winning pitcher Krystle Smrekar retired the Cardinals in the seventh.<BR><BR>Six different players - Branstrom, Santi, Whiting, Bigelow, Andrea Rosenquist and Mandy Nauman - had two hits for Vermilion.<BR><BR>Bigelow scored twice and drove in two runs.<BR><BR>In the second game, Vermilion scored five runs in the top of the first, while Hibbing rallied with four in the first and six more runs in the second.<BR><BR>The Ironwomen tallied five times in their next turn at bat to knot the game at 10, but the Cardinals answered right back with four runs.<BR><BR>“It went back and forth there for awhile,” said Vermilion Head Coach Steve Crittenden. “It was 10-10, then they were ahead 14-10. We cut it to 14-12 and then they scored four to make it 18-12. We cut it back to four runs and then they got four more to make it 22-14.”<BR><BR>Santi was one of several VCC players to have a big day at the plate, smashing four hits, scoring four runs and driving in two.<BR><BR>Whiting went three-for-four with two runs batted in.<BR><BR>Lori Brick had two hits, scored twice and drove in two runs, while Bigelow was two-for-three with two runs and two RBI.<BR><BR>Smrekar and Rosenquist added two hits for the Ironwomen.<BR><BR>• Northland swept the Ironwomen April 23 and shut them out twice in the process, winning 4-0 and 8-0.<BR><BR>“It was the first time all year that we didn’t hit the ball,” said Crittenden.<BR><BR>• The following day, VCC game top-ranked Central Lakes all it could handle.<BR><BR>The Raiders won the first game 10-9 in eight innings, and squeaked out a 10-8 victory in the nightcap.<BR><BR>“We hit the ball like crazy that day,” said Crittenden.<BR><BR>• The regional playoffs are this weekend at Grand Rapids.<BR><BR>