Friday, January 17, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Eagles crush Dawson, 19-2, for district title

GLENDIVE, Mont. - Erin Hocker celebrated her trip home to Montana with  all of her friends from Kirkwood Thursday afternoon.

Hocker pitched a complete game as the seventh-ranked Eagles smashed  18th-ranked Dawson Community College, 19-2, in the championship game  of the district tournament to earn a spot in the NJCAA Division II  World Series.

Kirkwood (50-15) advances to the national tournament May 22-25 in  Clinton, Miss.

London Jackson belted her 22th home run in the second inning to give  Kirkwood an early lead and the Eagles piled up the runs as the game  went along. There was no mercy rule in the district finals and the  Eagles showed no mercy.

Lauren Kuch socked a three-run homer and pinch-hitter Skylar Ryan hit  a grand slam in the seventh inning as the slugfest continued.

Eric Frese will be taking his team to the national tournament in his  first year as head coach. Frese had never been a college softball  coach before coming to Kirkwood this season, but the Norway native has  vast experience as a college baseball coach and had no trouble  adjusting.

Kuch, an All-American last season who is headed to Grand View, went  3-for-4 and scored four times. Sydney Albaugh had a big two-run single  in the third inning when the Eagles grabbed a 5-0 advantage.

Ashlyn Tingery hit a two-run homer for Dawson in the bottom of the  third to pull the Buccaneers within 5-2, but Hocker shut the door the  rest of the way.

Hocker, who is from Great Falls, Mont., got to pitch in front of her  family who made the six-hour drive to Glendive. She was the hard-luck  loser when Dawson beat Kirkwood, 1-0, in the first game of the  district tournament Wednesday, but she left Montana with all smiles  Thursday.

Hocker, who ranks second in the nation in victories, raised her record  to 27-9. She also had a save in Game 2 of the district tournament when  the Eagles prevailed, 12-3.

The two-team district was a best-of-3 event, so Kirkwood was on the  verge of elimination after dropping the opener 1-0. Instead, the  Eagles fought back and trounced Dawson 31-5 in the next two games.

Shelby Martin, who pitched the 1-0 shutout for Dawson on Wednesday,  was not able to fool the Eagles on Thursday.

Dawson finished the season at 43-5.


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