Playing in a position that at times is known for teaching the art of observing grass grow, Krista Viefhaus, a center fielder for Columbia College, has learned to be patient.
That’s why it didn’t bother her to wait 12 innings before making two huge contributions to Columbia College’s sweep of the University of Illinois-Springfield on Tuesday at Columbia College.
The Cougars, ranked No. 13 in the NAIA, won 1-0 and 6-0.
In the fifth inning of the second game, Viefhaus made her defensive presence known for the Cougars (5-3).
Illinois-Springfield (0-2) had runners on first and second when Grazia Silvestro crushed a 1-1 pitch to the gap in right field. It appeared Rebakah Bandy would easily score, but Viefhaus scooped up the ball and made a spectacular throw to catcher Amy Seipp, who tagged out Bandy.
Viefhaus said her assist was a matter of awareness.
“It’s nice because not a lot happens in the outfield,” Veifhaus said. “You’ve got to be paying attention to what is going on and then just let it go. I was ready for it.”
Columbia College coach Wendy Spratt wasn’t fazed.
“Krista consistently every day has the best throw to the plate that I’ve ever seen of any player,” Spratt said. “She puts it right there every day in practice no matter what happens. So for me, it wasn’t a big surprise.”
Viefhaus wasn’t done, though, for in the seventh inning she sent a 3-2 pitch well beyond the center field wall for her second home run of the season.
She had been 0-for-5 to that point.
“I knew I wasn’t hitting very well throughout the games,” Viefhaus said. “I wasn’t seeing the ball real well and I saw the ball well and just swung as hard as I could.”
Spratt said Viefhaus has improved her hitting substantially since last year.
“She’s our go-to hitter now and she has really stepped it up,” Spratt said. “We love that bat.”
Although Viefhaus’ theatrics added excitement, Columbia College pitchers Monica Mueller and Kerri Gapka did the dirty work and got batters out.
Mueller dominated the first game with a combination of off-speed pitches and pinpoint accuracy, for she allowed three hits and struck out nine en route to her third win.
Gapka might have been better; she allowed one hit while striking out four to earn her second win.
She said variety is the key to good pitching.
“As long as you can have a whole bunch of different pitches and different speeds, that can make you a more better pitcher,” Gapka said.
The Prairie Stars mustered four hits.
“I thought the pitchers threw well,” Praire Stars coach Joe Fisher said. “They did a good job of keeping our hitters off-balance and made us look silly a couple of times.”
Megan Kuntze led the Cougars with four hits and was a home run away from the cycle.
Although the Cougars dominated both games, they weren’t perfect, stranding 11 runners.
This stat doesn’t concern Spratt.
“The good news is we are getting base runners on base and generally if push comes to shove and we need to make it happen, we make it happen,” she said.