No. 20 Lady Owls repeat as AMC tourney champs

— That’s two in a row for the William Woods University Lady Owls softball team.

Senior starter MacKenzie Bowden threw a four-hit shutout as top-seeded and 20th-ranked William Woods dispatched No. 3 seed Columbia College 6-0 on Friday afternoon to clinch its second straight American Midwest Conference Tournament title at Antimi Softball Complex.

The Lady Owls (39-15) — winners of 13 straight and 22 of their last 23 — had already clinched an automatic bid to the NAIA Opening Round by winning the AMC regular-season championship.

William Woods’ opening-round opponent and location for the NAIA Opening Round will be revealed Tuesday. Play begins Monday, May 12.

“It feels good to be champions again in this conference,” William Woods head coach Tracy Gastineau said. “This was a four-team tournament and the NAIA Opening Round will also be a four-team tournament, so to be the No. 1 seed and come out on top is great.”

Bowden (20-7) struck out five and walked three in pitching her 22nd complete game of the season Friday.

The Lady Owls got off to a fast start, plating four runs with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore second baseman Emily Murphy’s single to left drove in sophomore shortstop Shelby LeCuru with the first run.

Senior left fielder Lindsey LeCuru made it 2-0 when she scored after freshman designated player Alexi Cavins drew a bases-loaded walk. Junior third baseman Caroline Sicht followed by slapping a two-run single to bring home Murphy and junior catcher Macy Wierschem.

Freshman center fielder Hannah Campbell stretched William Woods’ lead to 5-0 with an RBI single in the fourth and junior pinch-hitter Sam Parsons knocked in the Lady Owls’ final run on a fielder’s choice in the sixth.

Shelby LeCuru finished 2-for-4 as William Woods totalled eight hits, while Murphy, Sicht and Wierschem were all 1-for-2.

“We had some big contributions these last couple of games to win the AMC,” Gastineau said. “Emily (Murphy) hadn’t hit a home run all season, but hit three (on Thursday). We just got production up and down the lineup and even when we got out, the players had quality at-bats.”

Bowden, Lindsey LeCuru, Wierschem and senior pitcher Becca Schemmer were named to the all-AMC first team, while Gastineau was selected the conference’s coach of the year.

Bowden — a four-time all-AMC first-team pick — compiled a 0.90 ERA and struck out 261 in 171 innings to claim AMC pitcher of the year acclaim. Lindsey LeCuru, a three-time all-AMC first-team choice, leads the Lady Owls with a .361 batting average and five home runs and shares the team lead with 38 RBIs.

Schemmer has posted a 12-8 record with four shutouts and a 2.23 ERA in earning first-team all-AMC recognition for the first time in her career. Wierschem, also a first-team all-AMC selection for the the first time, is third on the team with a .354 average and has 20 RBIs.

Gastineau was named AMC coach of the year for the fifth time after leading the Lady Owls to a school-record 20 conference wins.


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