Clutch hitting and solid pitching helped lift the Iowa Central softball team to an ICCAC sweep of Ellsworth here Wednesday at chilly Rogers Sports Complex.
After rallying for a 5-4 victory in their opener behind a walkoff two-run homer from Nicole Dobernecker, the Tritons (24-7 overall, 6-2 in the league) breezed to a 9-2 triumph in the nightcap.
"We didn't come out ready to go in the first game, but we kept on battling," ICCC head coach Josh Sandin said. "It was good to see us still get a win when we didn't play our best. Ellsworth is a much-improved team this year, so we knew we couldn't afford to overlook them.
"There's just so much parity in our conference that anyone is capable of beating you on any given day."
Dobernecker finished 3-for-4 offensively with four RBI and a run scored in the opener.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Dobernecker blasted a full-count offering to deep left field on the 15th pitch of the at-bat, bringing home pinch runner Lexie Miller (Eagle Grove). Earlier in her plate appearance, Dobernecker received new life after a misplayed pop-up by the Panther catcher.
IOWA CENTRAL 5, ELLSWORTH 4
Elllsworth 200 010 1-4 8 3
Iowa Central 001 011 2-5 9 2
Lindsay Barnhart (L, 6 1/3 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and Crystal Apfel; Allie Ingalls (W, 12-4; 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 10 K) and Sarah McCoy.
2B-ICCC: Chelsy Krantz. HR-ICCC: Nicole Dobernecker. MH-E: Barnhart (2), Aimee Madrid (2), Alissa Denn (2); ICCC: Krantz (2), Dobernecker (3), Katie Newbury (2). SB-E: Kelly Sykes; ICCC: Newbury (2), Krantz, Taylor Barnett, Lexie Miller, Sammie Hildreth, Ingalls (2). LOB-E 8, Iowa Central 7. DP-E.
IOWA CENTRAL 9, ELLSWORTH 2
Ellsworth 110 000 0-2 5 1
Iowa Central 300 015 x-9 12 4
Nicole Festge (L; 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K), Denn (1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) and Apfel; Carmen Rivera (W, 5-2; 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) and Hildreth.
2BE: Sykes, Amber Muller, Denn. HR-ICCC: Hildreth. SB-ICCC: Newbury, Barnett, Emilee Dorpinghaus. MH-E: Denn (2); ICCC: Hildreth (2), Dobernecker (2), Haley Rustvold (3), Casey-May Huff (2). LOB-E 6, ICCC 5. DP-ICCC (2).
Dobernecker, a cleanup hitter and first baseman, paces the Tritons this season in both longballs (11) and RBI (42).
"Dobernecker is really locked in right now," said Sandin. "Everybody on the bench just knew she was going to hit a home run there."
Chelsy Krantz (Fort Dodge) and Katie Newbury each added a pair of hits for the Tritons out of the No. 2 and 6 spots in the lineup, respectively.
Krantz, a University of West Florida signee, also scored two runs.
As a team, Iowa Central stole eight bases, including two a piece from Newbury and Allie Ingalls.
Going the distance in the circle was Ingalls (North Union), who scattered eight hits and two earned runs. Ingalls (12-4) walked four and fanned 10. She now owns a 3.29 ERA this year, while allowing just 84 hits in 95 2/3 innings of work.
"I thought Allie threw the ball well again (Wednesday)," Sandin said. "She's been our most consistent pitcher so far this season."
Lindsay Barnhart, Aimee Madrid and Alissa Denn each collected two hits for Ellsworth (5-10, 4-8), which saw a pair of two-run leads slip away. Kelly Sykes and Amber Muller both crossed the dish twice, while Madrid and Cayla Bantz each had a pair of RBI.
Following an early 1-0 deficit in the second contest, Iowa Central immediately responded with a three-spot. The Tritons later pulled away with another tally in the fifth and five more insurance scores in the sixth.
Haley Rustvold (Fort Dodge) was a perfect 3-for-3 with a RBI for Iowa Central. Dobernecker, Sammie Hildreth and Casey-May Huff all registered two hits as well. Hildreth and Emilee Dorpinghaus both scored twice and drove in a pair.
One of Hildreth's hits was a solo round-tripper - her fifth of the year - with two outs in the fifth.
Carmen Rivera (5-2) yielded five hits and one earned run in the complete game win. Rivera, who was recently named ICCAC Pitcher of the Week, walked three and struck out six. She fired 64 of her 106 pitches for strikes.
"Carmen did another awesome job," said Sandin. "She continues to get better each time out."
Denn went 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Panthers, who fell for a fifth straight game.
Iowa Central outhit Ellsworth on the day, 21-13. The Tritons, who pulled off two double plays in the finale, were also able to overcome six errors.
"We need to be ready to go right away against DMACC on Saturday," Sandin said. "We'll be in trouble if we make as many mistakes as we did (yesterday)."
First pitch between the Tritons and 13th-ranked (NJCAA Div. II) Bears (17-5, 8-2) is set for 1 p.m. here Saturday.