Softball Splits with Manchester; Eyes HCAC Tourney

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology softball team finished the regular season with a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conferences split Saturday, defeating visiting Manchester University 8-6 in Game 1 before falling in Game 2, 15-7 in six innings.

The Fightin' Engineers (18-14, 10-6 HCAC) will now look to their first appearance in the HCAC Tournament since 2008, as 3-seed Rose-Hulman is set to take on 2-seed Bluffton University beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at Anderson, the top-seed and host.

Rose-Hulman honored its two seniors, Allison Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider) and Jenna Martinek (Troy, Mo./Troy Buchanan) in a special ceremony before Saturday's doubleheader, and both seniors produced in their final contest at the RHIT Softball Complex.

Martinek finished the day with a 4-for-8 performance at the plate and scored three runs and Bowman blasted her first home run of the season over the left field fence in Game 2 , and she added a single in the opener.  

In Game 1, the Engineers overcame a 3-0 deficit in no time, as a Marissa Stout (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) three-run home run tied the game at 3-all after the Spartans plated three runs in the top of the inning. It was Stout's third home of the season, and her third in the past four doubleheaders for RHIT.

The Engineers would go on to score runs in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings, highlighted by another long ball when Game 1 starter Carly Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian) belted her fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot in the fifth.

Heibel had a monster day at the plate, as the junior went 6-for-8 with three doubles (all in Game 2), a home run, and six RBI. Stout wasn't far behind, as she went 5-for-7 with two home runs and six RBI of her own.

Heibel picked up her 11th win of the season in the circle in Game 1, giving up 11 hits, four earned runs, while striking out three and not giving up a walk.

Manchester (11-23, 7-9 HCAC) jumped out to another early lead in Game 2, as the Spartans scored seven runs in the top of the first, six of them unearned. The Engineers were never able to tie the ball game afterward, despite Stout's second home run of the day, a two-run shot in the third to make the score 11-6 in favor of the Spartans.

Bowman helped keep the game within reach early in the bottom of the first, as she followed a Heibel RBI-double to score Jessica Ahlborn (Houghton, Mich./Houghton) with her first home run of the season and her sixth of her career.

Ahlborn finished the day with a strong performance at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, four runs and an RBI. She also walked three times. Freshman Janel Lake (Okawville, Ill./Okawville) and junior Chris Rollins (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield North) added two doubles a piece and freshman Ellissa Eckert (Sugar Grove, Ill./Kaneland) had two singles.

With the Game 1 win, the Engineers secured their first winning season since 2008. RHIT will play Bluffton in its HCAC opener, with its next opponent and time dependent on a win or loss in the double-elimination tournament.

The HCAC Championship game is set for Saturday afternoon, dependent on Friday's results.