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Kirkwood on a roll going into NJCAA D-II softball national tournament
Eagles open play in Alabama on Tuesday night
Kirkwood heads into its first-round game at the NJCAA Division II softball championships on a roll.
The Eagles (44-15) have won 12 games in a row, including a pair of 5-inning routs of Miles Community College in the North Plains District Championship.
But the Eagles’ first-round opponent is equally hot.
Bryant & Stratton College of West Allis, Wis., enters the tournament with a 37-9 record and went 12-1 in May. It won its final two games over Highland Community College, 13-0 and 10-0, to capture its berth.
First pitch is Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala.
The Bobcats feature four all-region players — pitcher Sydney Birling, catcher Megan Verbeten, outfielder Alyssa Trensch and infielder Karissa Laabs.
Birling posted a 23-3 record with a 0.58 ERA, collecting 275 strikeouts in 144.2 innings. Trensch batted .440 with 28 RBIs, Verbeten .408 with 62 RBIs and seven home runs, and Laabs batted .405 with 25 RBIs and five homers.
The Eagles counter with Kori Wedeking, a two-time Pitcher of the Year in Region XI. She posted a 19-5 record with a 1.79 ERA in all games. She struck out 165 in 148.2 innings.
Wedeking's catcher, Peggy Klingler, also earned first-team all-region honors, finishing with a fielding percentage of .991 while only giving up one error in conference play. She batted .372 with 56 RBIs and hit a team-high 16 home runs.
Two other Eagles earned first-team honors — infielder Emilee Linder and outfielder Grace Lubben. Linder batted .352 with 50 RBIs and Lubben, a former Anamosa prep, led the team with a .420 average and 58 RBIs.
Kirkwood utility player Austyn Crees of West Liberty was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year in the region, earning second team honors.