GALESBURG, Ill. – Cornell cranked five home runs and junior Jackie Sernek tossed a five-inning no-hitter in a 14-0, 10-5 Midwest Conference softball sweep Saturday at Knox.
The Rams (17-13 overall, 8-5 MWC) moved into a tie with Illinois College (19-13, 9-4 MWC) for second place in the South Division points race, both with 13. The teams will battle for a berth in the MWC Tournament in Sunday's MWC finale in Jacksonville, Ill. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.
Cornell needs to beat Illinois College twice to earn a spot in the four-team MWC Tournament. The Lady Blues would hold the tiebreaker with a split.
Sernek improved to 9-3 in the circle with a near-flawless Game 1 gem against the Prairie Fire (6-23, 5-10 MWC). The Cornell right-hander carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, when Knox finally got its first base runner with a one-out walk.
Sernek finished with a season-high 11 strikeouts. Knox did not hit a ball out of the infield against the Ram ace, who lowered her ERA to 1.82.
Britt Schoon, Renata Rankin and Brianna Carney all homered for the Rams, who tallied 15 hits. Rankin and Carney blasted back-to-back homers in the fourth, while Schoon went deep to lead off the fifth.
Schoon and Rankin both finished 3-for-4 in the opener. Schoon had three RBIs, while Rankin added a double and scored three times. Abby Haubold, Kari Martin, Rebekah Ozga and Carney chipped in two hits apiece.
Martin doubled and homered to lead the Rams to the Game 2 victory. She went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of runs. Rankin capped her big offensive day with a 2-for-4, 3-RBI effort that included a two-run homer in the seventh.
Cornell chalked up 16 more hits in the second game, getting two apiece from Brittani Yost, Schoon, Ozga and Carney. Yost had a triple and stole a base.
Junior Amanda Engel (7-10) picked up the pitching win. She gave up six hits and three earned runs while striking out three. Sernek came on to record the final three outs for her first save of the year.