MOUNT VERNON – Senior Brittani Yost knocked in the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 2 to rally Cornell to a 5-1, 4-3 sweep of Wartburg in Tuesday's regular-season finale at Mount Vernon Softball Complex.
Coach Shanda Ness' Rams (20-14) sewed up their third consecutive 20-win season, a feat never before accomplished in softball or baseball at Cornell. The Rams also won 20 softball games last year, after setting a record with 25 wins in 2011. The baseball program reached the 20-win mark in 2003 (27) and 2002 (21).
Win No. 20 did not come easily against the Knights (4-30), who led 3-1 halfway through the nightcap. Brianna Mullan doubled home a run in the bottom of the fourth, and Cornell then tied it at 3-3 on a Rebekah Ozga hit in the fifth.
The Rams got things going in the sixth with back-to-back walks by Renata Rankin and Mullan. Two outs later with Rankin on third, Yost dropped a single into right field for the game-winning RBI.
Jackie Sernek (11-3) finished off the Knights in the seventh for her fourth complete-game victory in seven days. She allowed six hits and two earned runs while fanning six.
Cornell finished with 11 hits, getting two apiece from Yost, Ozga and Kari Martin.
Amanda Engel (8-11) went the distance in the opener, which saw Cornell break through with five runs in the fourth inning. Ozga and Brianna Carney delivered RBI doubles. Rankin and Kelsey Boss also had run-scoring hits.
Boss had a perfect 4-for-4 game at the plate with four singles. Carney collected a pair of doubles. Ozga and Martin added two hits apiece.
Engel struck out six Knights and gave up the lone run on a two-out hit in the sixth. The junior worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, catching a pop up for the final out.
Cornell outhit the guests, 13-8. The Rams played errorless ball in the field.
Coming up – The Rams, winners of five of their last six, take aim at a conference championship this weekend in their first MWC Tournament appearance since 1992. Cornell, the No. 2 seed out of the South Division, opens play against North Division champion and host St. Norbert (19-13) at 12 p.m. Friday in De Pere, Wis.
South Division champion Lake Forest (17-16) faces North Division No. 2 seed Lawrence (19-13) at 10 a.m. Friday. The two first-round losers meet at 2 p.m., followed by a matchup of first-round winners at 4 p.m.
The double-elimination tournament resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday.