Trailing Central 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Luther softball team rallied with a pair of runs to win the Iowa Conference tournament championship Saturday afternoon in a battle of top-10 teams in Decorah.
Natalie Stockman’s lined single to left scored Ashley Burrows from second to give the No. 3-ranked Norse a walk-off win and automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament. It’s Luther’s second straight IIAC tournament title and fourth in five years.
Luther, the IIAC regular-season champion, began the ninth with three straight singles to load the bases, with Ashley Strien’s sac fly tying it before Stockman’s winner.
A two-out rally featuring doubles from Emily Wilson and Karly Olson gave No. 10 Central the lead in the top half, but the Dutch (32-8) dropped their third game to Luther (39-3) this season.
Samantha Bratland got the win for Luther, allowing three hits and a run in the two extra innings. Annie Versnik started and gave up just two hits in two innings, then Amanda Witzlib went five innings, allowing eight hits and a pair of runs while striking out four.
Mariah Fritz pitched 8 1/3 innings for Central, giving up 12 hits, two walks and four runs (three earned).
Luther took a 1-0 lead on Addy Pender’s second-inning sac fly, then went up 2-1 on an error in the fifth. Central forced extras with Sara Tallman’s sixth-inning RBI single. Both teams left 11 runners on base.
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Luther beat Wartburg 5-1 in Saturday’s semifinal round while Central beat Loras 8-0 in six innings.
The D-III selection show is Monday at noon.