April 15, 2014

Softball Splits With Nationally-Ranked Anderson

TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology knocked off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference leader Anderson University 2-1 in nine innings to open Tuesday's softball doubleheader at the Engineer Softball Field before falling to the Ravens in Game 2, 9-2. 

Sophomore Whitney Strain (St. Charles, Mo./Orchard Farm) singled just over the pitching circle with the bases loaded to score the winning run in extra innings. The Fightin' Engineers (13-8, 7-4 HCAC) handed the Ravens (18-6, 8-1) their first loss of the season in conference play.

Junior Carly Heibel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lakewood Park Christian) had one of her best outings of the year in the win, allowing six hits and just one earned run in nine innings pitched. She struck out five and walked just one to improve to 8-3 on the season. 

Strain helped drive in the Engineers' first run in the fifth, as her hard-hit grounder to the Anderson shortstop was bobbled to allow freshman Janel Lake (Okawville, Ill./Okawville) to score from third base to give RHIT a 1-0 lead. Lake singled with two outs, advanced to second on a Ellissa Eckert (Sugar Grove, Ill./Kaneland) ground and then to third on a wild pitch. 

The Engineers appeared to have the win the top of the seventh, but Anderson's Sami Frazier crushed a double to the wall and a Hannah Belvo bloop infield single scored the tying run. 

Senior Allison Bowman (Fort Wayne, Ind./R Nelson Snider) opened the bottom of the inning with a double to the wall of her own to set up RHIT runners at second and third with no outs after a Chris Rollins (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield North) single, but the Engineers were unable to plate a run to send the game to extra innings. 

After stopping the Ravens in both the eighth and ninth innings, Bowman was hit by a Sami Frazier pitch and Eckert walked to load the bases, setting up Strain's game-winning bloop single. 

In the nightcap, Anderson showed its strength with a four-run third inning that included four hits -- the biggest Morgan Burke RBI triple, an RHIT error, a wild pitch and a passed ball. The Ravens added on to their lead in the sixth, when a close play at the plate broke open a five-run inning. 

The Engineers spoiled the shutout for Anderson starter Belvo (seven strikeouts) in the bottom of the sixth when Heibel blasted her 13th home run (and school record) of her career and her fourth of the season, a solo shot to dead center field. Bowman followed with a double to center field and junior Ashley Loy (Cedar Lake, Ind./Hanover Central) drilled a double to left field to pick up her sixth RBI of the season. 

RHIT sophomore Taylor Lockhart (Robinson, Ill./Oblong) took the loss, giving up five earned runs while striking out seven in seven innings pitched.  

Wednesday, the Engineers will travel to play a familiar foe when they take on crosstown rival St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (22-17-1) in a nonleague doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m.

St. Mary-of-the-Woods was ranked No. 1 in the latest United States Collegiate Athletic Association Coaches' Poll. The Pomeroys are coming off Sunday's split with second-ranked Lindenwood University-Belleville, where SMWC defeated L-B 3-1 in Game 1 before falling in the nightcap, 6-4.

Sophomore Sarah Burnham leads the Pomeroys with a .352 batting average to go along with 37 hits, 21 runs, 19 RBI, 10 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Junior Kirby Schuble adds a .349 average with 16 RBI and Brooke Jordan is batting .340 with 32 hits, 20 RBI and six doubles.

Jordan is also the club's top pitcher, as her 11 wins lead the USCAA. She holds a 3.70 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched.

SMWC leads the all-time series, which began in 2002, 12-8. The Engineers swept the series in 2013, winning Game 1 3-2 and then pulling off an improbable comeback in Game 2, winning 10-8. RHIT trailed 7-0 before scoring eight runs in the fourth to mount the biggest comeback in school history.

Live stats will be available for Wednesday's contests at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rhit.portal#