Strong Starts Not Enough for Softball on Final Day in Florida

MINNEOLA, Fla. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology softball team started strong but couldn't hang on in two tough losses on the Engineers' final day in Florida Friday.

The Fightin' Engineers (3-3) dropped a 5-4 contest to Thiel College (Pa.) in Game 1 and then sustained a 5-3 setback to Misericordia University (Pa.) in Game 2 at the Minneloa Athletic Complex.

In the day's opener, RHIT took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning when Whitney Strain (St. Charles, Mo./Orchard Farm) walked and stole second, setting up a Jessica Ahlborn (Houghton, Mich./Houghton) RBI double to right center.

Carly Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian) got things started in the third, blasting a double to right center and then advancing to third on a wild pitch. Marissa Stout's (Terre Haute, Ind./South) RBI sacrifice fly scored Heibel to make it 2-0 Engineers.

Thiel (4-3) used the bat of Madison Cheeks in the fourth, who belted a Stout pitch over the center field fence for a solo home run to make the score 2-1 RHIT.

The Tomcats' big inning came in the top of the fifth, when Thiel got two runners on second and third with two outs. A wild pitch, a fielding error and a Cheek single scored four runs to give Thiel a 5-2 lead after the dust cleared.

Rose-Hulman responded with a run in the bottom of the inning, as Heibel (reached on error) advanced to third on a Stout sac fly and then scored when senior Allison Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider) singled to left center to make the score 5-3.

The Engineers would have one final rally in the bottom of the seventh, as senior Jenna Martinek (Troy, Mo./Troy Buchanan) and Heibel singled, followed by a Stout RBI double to cut the lead to one, 5-4.

With runner on second and third with no outs, Thiel reliever Allison Williams retired the next three Engineer batters to end the game.

Heibel and Bowman (RBI) both had two hits in the game, while Ahlborn (RBI), Martinek, and Stout (two RBI) one hit apiece for RHIT.

Stout took the loss in the circle for the Engineers, allowing five hits while striking out three in 4.2 innings. Heibel allowed three hits in 2.1 innings of relief.

In Game 2, Rose-Hulman took an early lead when Stout walked and Lindsey Watterson (Lexington, Ind./Lexington) connected for a RBI single to score the game's first run in the second inning. With Heibel holding the Misericordia batters to one hit through four, the Engineers added another score in the top of the fourth when Bowman's RBI double score Stout from first to make it 2-0.

The Engineers would score one more time, on a Heibel double to plate Ahlborn to make it 3-0 before Misericordia answered with a big inning in the bottom of the fifth. With two runners on, Whitney Ellenburg connected on a three-run home run to tie the game, and Misericordia added two more runs in the sixth via a Megan Gowe triple to take a 5-3 lead it would not relinquish.

RHIT finished with six hits in the game compared with seven for Misericordia.

Taylor Lockhart (Robinson, Ill./Oblong), who took over for Heibel in the fifth, struck out three in loss for the Engineers.

The contest concluded the Engineers' spring trip, as Rose-Hulman returns to the field March 22 for a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup at Defiance (Ohio).