NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Mount St. Joseph University softball team traveled to Manchester University to take on the Spartans in their final conference double header of the season. Unfortunately, game two would be canceled because of weather but that would not stop the Lions from making program history as they defeated the Spartans in game one, 9-4 and won their first ever Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship!
GAME ONE - Mount St. Joseph 9 - Manchester 4
As game one began The Mount knew what was at stake and they were not about to let anyone steal their spotlight. They came out with a huge two out rally in the first inning recording six runs and giving themselves a solid cushion. Brooke Otto (Brookville, Ind./Franklin Co.) would watch four balls pass by her as she waited patiently and took her base. She would swiftly steal second and put herself in scoring position as Sarah Miller (Fishers, Ind./St. Theodore Guerin) would reach first on an error by the Spartans first baseman leading to Otto crossing the plate. Miller would make her way around first advancing off of a wild pitch and would make it to third as Brandy Bunch (Mason, Ohio/Mason) would reach first by way of a fielding error by the shortstop. The bases became loaded as Katie Tarter (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield) walked pushing Bunch to second. Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, Ind./Avon) would be safe at first off of another error by the Manchester infield driving in Miller for their second run. Paige Hampton (Versailles, Ky./Woodford Co.) was the next one up to the plate as she blasted a ball to right center field and collected two RBI's as Bunch and Tarter would score. Olivia Quick (Sunman, Ind./East Central) would follow behind her teammates as she would also be safe at first because of an error committed by a member of the Spartans infield giving Woodyard the opportunity to cross home. The final run of the inning would occur off of an error by the catcher, Hampton would scurry in as The Lions would come out of the inning leading Manchester 6-0.
Machester would score a pair of runs in two separate innings while The Lions added three more runs to their total throughout the remainder of the game. Hampton would score once again in the third inning. Followed by Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, Ind./East Central) in the sixth and Sturgill would collect an RBI in the seventh as Quick would cross for The Mount's final run of the game leading to a 9-4 victory! This win was the Lions 14th consecutive victory and 28th in the last 29 games.
With the regular season championship secured The Lions look to clinch a berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament during next weekend's HCAC Championship, which will be hosted by Mount St. Joseph.
They will enter the tournament with one of the best pitching staff's in the nation. Their staff ERA currently sits at 1.33 and is the fifth best mark in DIII. They are led by ace sophomore Sarah Miller who currently sits atop the HCAC with a program record 14 wins, and a 1.46 ERA. Freshman Kamryn McCool (Brookville, Ky./Franklin Co.) has also had an outstanding season on the mound for the Lions, leading the HCAC with 1.13 ERA.
The HCAC Championship tournament will be held at the Kinder Morgan Softball Complex, located at 5092 River Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45233. The tournament will begin on Thursday, May 2nd with games scheduled for 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM. The following day games are scheduled to begin at noon and again start every two hours subsequently, and the championship game is scheduled for Saturday at noon.
When asked about her teams regular season championship Coach Beth Goderwis had this to say, "Winning the regular season championship was an amazing accomplishment and I am very proud of the women on my team. But make no mistake about it we have a lot more work to do"