Softball Falls to Bluffton in HCAC Semis to End Season

ANDERSON, Ind. – The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology softball team saw its season come to an end in Saturday's 10-2, six-inning loss to Bluffton University in the semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

The Fightin' Engineers finish their season with a 19-16 overall record, having completed their first winning season since 2010 and qualified for the team's first HCAC Tournament since 2008.

Junior Jessica Ahlborn (Houghton, Mich./Houghton) gave the Engineers an early lead with her second home run of the weekend, as she took the second pitch of the game over the left center field fence to give RHIT a 1-0 advantage.

Rose-Hulman would hold that lead until the fourth, when Bluffton (26-15) used singles by Ariana Muffo and Jess Kuzara to put runners on, then capitalized on a throwing error to take a 3-1 lead.

The Beavers added two more in the fifth before the Engineers created a bases-loaded situation in the top of the sixth when Carly Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian), Marissa Stout (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) and Allison Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider) hit three straight singles.

But the Beavers were able to turn a double play that allowed only Heibel to score before heading into sixth up, 5-2. Bluffton then exploded for five runs in the sixth, which ended the game due to the eight-run mercy rule.

Bowman finished the game with two hits and teammates Jenna Martinek (Troy, Mo./Troy Buchanan), Janel Lake (Okawville, Ill./Okawville) and Ellissa Eckert (Sugar Grove, Ill./Kaneland) added singles.

Heibel took the loss in the circle, as she finished the season 12-6. Her 12 wins ranks tied for third in RHIT school history.

RHIT's two seniors, Martinek and Bowman, left their marks on the record book in their final season on the diamond. Martinek finishes her career as the RHIT career record holder in most games played (145) and most games started (144) while Bowman is second in both categories (144 and 143, respectively).

Bowman also ranks tied for seventh in hits (123), while Martinek is tied for 10th (121) in the category.

Bluffton went on to fall to top-seeded Anderson in the title game, 13-4 in five innings, as the Ravens captured their fourth-straight league championship.

Junior designated hitter Chris Rollins (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield North) and Ahlborn were both selected to the 2014 HCAC All-Tournament team for their performances, which included two home runs by each player, including Rollins' two-run shot in the seventh inning that lifted the Engineers to a 4-2 opening win over Bluffton Friday.