BELOIT. Wis. – Sixteen days and several indoor practices since its last game, Cornell's softball team made a quick and successful return to the diamond Saturday with a road sweep of Midwest Conference North Division foe Beloit.
The Rams won the opener, 9-1, in six innings. They took the second game, 9-0, in five innings. Both games are considered nonconference, as the teams meet again in the MWC Crossover Classic April 13 in East Peoria, Ill., that will count toward the league standings.
Cornell (7-4) collected 30 total hits in the doubleheader, while receiving complete-game outings from junior pitchers Amanda Engel and Jackie Sernek. Engel recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowed just three hits in the opener. Sernek tossed a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in Game 2.
Sophomore shortstop Renata Rankin drove in seven runs and scored three times during a productive 5-for-8 day at the plate, extending her hitting streak to seven games. First baseman Kari Martin went 5-for-5, smacking a pair of doubles and a home run.
Rankin accounted for two hits and four RBIs in Game 1, which the Rams led 2-1 through three innings. Cornell broke it open with a four-run fourth frame, highlighted by a two-run single by Rankin. She drove in two more runs in the sixth, which included an RBI double by Britt Schoon.
Martin finished 2-for-2 and slugged for a solo home run in the second. Brittani Yost, Kelsey Boss and Rachel Aubry also tallied two hits apiece. Yost scored twice and Aubry stole two bases.
Engel (3-3) issued just one walk in notching her fifth complete game of the season. Beloit (2-16) mustered its lone run on a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second.
Sernek (3-1) allowed only four base runners in the five-inning nightcap. She struck out the side in the third and fifth innings.
Cornell pounded 16 hits in Game 2, getting three each from Rankin, Martin and Rebekah Ozga. The Rams scored three runs in each of the final three innings.
Rankin, Martin and Ozga all had RBI hits in the third. Rankin connected for a three-run homer in the fourth that put the Rams ahead 6-0. Cornell ended the game in the fifth behind RBIs from Kerbee Koehler, Yost and Boss.
Martin capped her perfect day at the plate with two doubles. Rankin and Schoon also had a double.
Coming up – Cornell plays host to Monmouth in the MWC opener at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 at Mount Vernon Softball Complex.
The Rams are favored to win the South Division in their first season back in the league since 1997. Monmouth, an MWC Tournament qualifier in each of the last five seasons, is picked to finish third in the South Division.