GALESBURG, Ill. -- Fifth-year Eureka College softball head coach Debi Neff recorded a milestone win Tuesday night at Knox, earning her 99th and 100th victories as head coach of the Red Devils in EC's non-conference doubleheader sweep in Galesburg, Ill. Eureka won the opener in five innings, 12-4, and also won game two in five innings, 9-0.
Neff is the first Eureka softball coach to record 100 wins for the Red Devils since Karen Sweitzer earned her 100th win during the 1996 season.
Tuesday's wins also gives Eureka 21 victories for the season, the first time the Red Devils have earned back-to-back 20-win seasons since earning three in a row from 1994 through 1996.
In game one, Eureka broke a 2-2 tie in the second inning when sophomore shortstop Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) doubled to score freshman Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) for a 3-2 advantage. Back-to-back run-scoring doubles by freshman Courtney Kurtz (Minooka, Ill./Minooka H.S.) and Dura in the third extended the lead to 6-2.
Knox added two in the third to cut its deficit in half and trail 6-4, but the Red Devils put the contest out of reach with a huge fifth inning. Smith drilled a two-run home run to make it 8-4. Four batters later, senior third baseman Bridget Bankes (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) cleared the bases with a three-run double and an 11-4 cushion. Bankes ultimately scored the Red Devils' sixth run of the inning when the KC defense committed its second error of the frame.
Dura, Bankes, sophomore Madaline Kane (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.), Smith and Kurtz had two hits apiece in game one. Dura doubled twice. Junior Kali George (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) collected her 10th pitching win of the season.
Smith hit her second of three home run for the day to give EC a 2-0 lead in the second inning of game two. The visitors eventually blew the game open with a six-run fourth inning. The Red Devils recorded only three hits in the frame, but took advantage of two walks and an error by the Prairie Fire. Dura drew a bases-loaed walk before Bankes hit another bases-loaded double. George followed with a two-run single and the EC lead was 8-0.
The Red Devils scored their ninth run of the nigthcap when Smith hit her second home run of game two and third home run of the doubleheader, a solo shot to begin the fifth inning. Smith became the first Red Devil to have a multi-home run game since Savanna Tapper hit three bombs against MacMurray on March 31, 2016.
Smith also tossed a three-hit, complete-game shutout in the circle to win her ninth game of 2017. She struck out five KC hitters.
Eureka will play its final two games of the 2017 regular season Saturday against St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Spalding in Eureka at 2:30 p.m. The Red Devils must win both games to guarantee their spot in next week's SLIAC Tournament in St. Louis.