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NCAA Softball World Series : No. 2 Broncos Rally to Beat Northwestern

May 24, 1985|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

OMAHA — Cal Poly Pomona's All-American pitcher Rhonda Wheatley had just given up a two-run homer in the first inning of Thursday night's first-round NCAA Division 1 Women's Softball World Series game against Northwestern, but she was standing there on the mound smiling, anyway.

"I don't know why I was smiling because I sure wasn't happy," she said. "In fact, I was thinking, 'This is cute, the game's already over.' "

Two runs are often more than enough margin for victory in this sport. A total of two runs were scored in two games Wednesday. But Wheatley had plenty of reason to smile after the game. The second-ranked Broncos (51-16) rallied, Wheatley blasted a two-run homer herself and Cal Poly Pomona came away with a 6-3 win at Seymour Smith Park.

Nebraska (36-9) kept the offensive fireworks going in Thursday's nightcap, erupting for four runs in the first inning. It was plenty for freshman Lori Sippel who fired a no-hitter as the Cornhuskers beat Louisiana Tech, 6-0. Nebraska will meet Cal Poly Pomona in the second game of a winner's bracket doubleheader tonight. Top-ranked Cal State Fullerton faces No. 4 UCLA in the opener.

Wheatley, only a sophomore, is now 48-14 on the season, accounting for all but three of the Broncos wins. She had been mired in a month-long hitting slump, however, until the sixth inning Thursday night.

"I think the extreme amount of pressure on her performance as a pitcher has hurt her hitting this year," Broncos Coach Carol Spanks said. "But she's a good hitter so I've kept her in there instead of using a DH."

It's Wheatley's prowess as a pitcher, of course, that earned her All-America honors. And, considering that she was matched against another first-team All-American pitcher, Northwestern's Lisa Ishikawa (25-6), the game figured to be another low-scoring contest.

Cal Poly Pomona tied the game in the third on two walks, a wild pitch, an error and Donna McElrea's RBI-double to left. Northwestern (39-11) took the lead again in the sixth, 3-2, when the Wildcats got a run thanks to the fourth and fifth Bronco errors.

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