CINCINNATI, Ohio -- On Saturday the Mount St. Joseph softball team welcomed the Franklin College Grizzlies to the Kinder Morgan Softball Complex for a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference double-header. The Lions came into the day a league best 20-5 overall and tied with eight other HCAC teams at 1-1 in conference games. Last season the Grizzlies defeated the Lions in 3-of-4 matchups, including the HCAC Championship semi-final.
This season's matchup would be much different the Lions (22-5, 3-1 HCAC) took game one 7-4 behind a solid offensive performance, and defeated the Grizzlies (8-12, 1-3 HCAC) in a 1-0 pitcher's duel in game two.
GAME ONE | Mount St. Joseph 7 - Franklin College 4
In game on Coach Beth Goderwis turned the ball over to freshman Alaina Maddy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Northwest). Maddy came into the game with a sparkling 0.77 ERA, which is good for ninth best in the nation at the DIII level and the best in the HCAC. Maddy struggled a little bit to open the game, and her outing was cut short as a batted ball glanced off her leg. She was relieved by sophomore Sarah Miller (Fischers, Ind. /St. Theodore Guerin) in the top of the first inning. Miller pitched the final 6.1 innings, allowing 2 earned runs, while striking out 3 Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Lions began their comeback in the bottom of the second inning. Katie Tarter (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield) reached base to open the inning on an error by the second baseman, and was advanced to second base on a sac bunt by Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, Ind. /Avon). Then freshman Paige Hampton (Versailles, Ky. /Woodford Co.) who replaced Maddy in the lineup, drilled a base hit into right center scoring Tarter.
The bottom of the third inning saw the Lions take the lead for the first time in the game, they were able to plate four runs taking a 5-2 lead. Brooke Otto (Brookville, Ind. /Franklin Co.) and Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, Ind. /East Central) and Miller each got on base to open the load the bases with no outs. Senior first baseman Brandy Bunch (Mason, Ohio) laced a double down the left field line, scoring Otto and Sturgill. Tarter then played a little add-on, with a 2 RBI base-hit.
Each team would score two more runs, but the Lions were able to limit the damage at every turn. Clinching their 16th win in their last 17 games.
GAME TWO | Mount St. Joseph 1 - Franklin College 0
In game two the Lions would put their outstanding pitching staff on full display. The Lions came into the day with the 11th lowest team ERA in all off Division III softball. They also are proud to boast the four lowest individual ERA's in in the HCAC so far this season. Senior Brianna Kauf (Orrville, Ohio/Orrville) started game two has the third lowest ERA in the HCAC this season. As has been the case through much of the early portion of the season, Kauf went the front 3.0 innings allowing 2 hits and striking out 3. In the fourth inning she gave way to freshman fireballer Kamryn McCool (Brookville, Ind. /Franklin Co.). McCool threw the final 4.0 innings, allowing 3 hits and striking out two, for her league leading eighth win of the season.
In a game where the teams combined for just 10 hits and a single run, the Lions were able to find a way to continue to get it done. The Lions scored the game's lone run in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Alehia Tucker (Covington, Ky. /Holy Cross) was a big reason why, she led off the game with a double over the head of the left fielder. One out later Tucker was successful in a stolen base attempt of third base. Sturgill then smoked a line drive into left field, scoring Tucker from third.
That was the only run the Mount would score in the game, thanks to the dominant pitching of Kauf and McCool it was all they would need. In the win Tucker had an outstanding game, she registered 3 of the Lions 5 hits. She was able to double twice, steal a base, and score the games lone run. Sturgill and Bunch were the other Lions to register hits for The Mount.
Up next the Lions (22-5, 3-1 HCAC) will take to the field on Wednesday, as they welcome the Panthers of Hanover College (8-12, 1-3 HCAC) to the Kinder Morgan Softball Complex. The games are scheduled to get underway at 4:00 PM, with game two to start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Tune into MSJsports.com for all of your live game coverage of Lions Softball this season.