CINCINNATI, Ohio - For the final time in the 2019 regular season the Mount St. Joseph softball team took to the field at the Kinder Morgan Softball Complex, as they welcomed the Defiance Yellow Jackets to Cincinnati. Between the Lions two wins, the program recognized a very special group of seniors on their final night of games at home. The 2019 MSJ Softball senior class consisted of Hayley Hudson (Ross, Ohio/Ross), Olivia Quick (Sunman, Ind./East Central), Brianna Kauf (Orrville, Ohio/Orrville), Katie Tarter (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield), Brandy Bunch (Mason, Ohio/Mason) and Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, Ind./East Central); all of whom have had a huge impact on the Lions historic 2019 season.
GAME ONE - Mount St. Joseph 3 - Defiance 2
In the top of the first inning the Lions and starting pitcher Sarah Miller (Fishers, Ind./St. Theodore Guerin) got themselves into and then back out of trouble. Miller retired the first two batters of the game, before walking the third. Then the Defiance clean-up hitter Michaela Bauer drilled a ball over the head of left fielder Brooke Otto (Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.) that seemed destined to be a homerun. It came up just short drilling the fence on a line for a two out double. Miller then got the final out of the inning on a pop up to third basemen MaKayla Hanes (New Paris, Ohio/Greenville).
The Mount opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning of game one. A pair of seniors combined for the Lions first run as Tarter scored on an RBI single by Quick.
Defiance would answer back to tie the game in the top of the fifth inning. With a two-out base hit through the left side, by Jordan Osborne.
Miller then delivered what everyone in attendance thought would be the game winner to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. She crushed a deep homerun to straight away leftfield to give the Lions a 2-1 advantage. There was no quit in the Yellow Jackets though, as they tied the game again in the top of the seventh. Again it was Osborne delivering the two-out RBI, on a single back through the middle.
That set up a bottom of the seventh in which the Lions put together numerous outstanding at-bats. Paige Hampton (Versailles, Ky./Woodford Co.) led the inning off with a single to left field, before giving way to Hudson as a pinch-runner. Quick then stepped to the plate looking to sacrifice herself to advance the runner into scoring position. In doing so she laid down a perfect bunt, legging it out for a bunt hit. Alehia Tucker (Covington, Ky./Holy Cross) was then asked to get a bunt down, but she couldn't, instead she put together an outstanding at bat. She came back from down 1-2 to work a walk to load the bases.
The stage was set for Brooke Otto, bottom of the seventh inning, bases loaded, 10-game winning streak and first place in the conference on the line. Like Tucker before her, she put together and outstanding at bat, fighting off a couple of two strike pitches. Eventually she drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the winning run.
Coming into the day the Lions and Yellow Jackets were in the top-2 spots in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, so it is no surprise that Coach Goderwis turned to her ace Miller to start game one. Miller was again dominant for The Mount, throwing a complete game, allowing five hits and two runs (1 earned) while striking out six, getting her 12th win of the season.
GAME TWO - Mount St. Joseph 4 - Defiance 1
The second game was again very competitive this time though it was Defiance jumping out to the early lead. Scoring the game's first run with one-out in the top of the second inning.
Outside of the lone Defiance run, both teams would struggle to get their offense on track through the early innings. The Lions did come back to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Bunch led off the inning with a base-hit up the middle. Coach Goderwis turned to another senior to pinch run, putting Hudson on at first base, and it was a great call by Coach Goderwis as Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, Ind./Avon) laced a double into right center to score her from first base.
The Lions continued to scratch and claw their way toward a possible HCAC championship, as in the fifth inning they erupted for three runs to take control of the game. On senior night it was fitting that a senior, four-year starter Katie Tarter delivered the biggest hit of the night. She stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded and slapped a single into right center, scoring Bunch and Miller. Woodyard followed that up with an RBI single of her own to push the lead out to 4-1 in favor of The Mount. Kamryn McCool (Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.) retired the final six Defiance hitters, five by way of strikeout to secure the win.
On the hill for the Lions in the game was the dynamic duo of Kauf and McCool. And as has been the case for much of the season they were dominant. Kauf pitched the first two innings allowing three hits and one unearned run, while striking out two. McCool threw the final 5.0 innings allowing only a single hit, striking out nine and not allowing a single run.
The Mount (30-5, 11-1 HCAC) having already clinched the best record in program history, will head to Bluffton to take on the Beavers (7-25, 2-8 HCAC) on Wednesday. The double header is expected to get underway at 3:30 PM. Tune into MSJsports.com for all of your live game coverage.