Softball splits Michigan road trip

By Frank Gogola

Softball returned from its four-game Michigan road trip the same way it left: three games below .500.

The Huskies (19-22, 7-7 MAC) split a Friday doubleheader against the Central Michigan Chippewas (28-15, 7-5 MAC) at Margo Jonker Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

They then defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles (10-30, 1-11 MAC) in extra innings Saturday before dropping an extra-innings affair to the Eagles Sunday at Varsity Field in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Central Michigan

The Huskies defeated the Chippewas, 4-1, in game one of the Friday doubleheader. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning and never looked back.

Junior pitcher Jessica Sturm got the Huskies on the board with a fourth-inning solo home run over the center-field wall.

The Huskies tacked on three runs in the fifth inning by taking advantage of a pair of CMU errors.

Sturm gave up one run on five hits and three walks in seven innings. The lone run she gave up was on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“I think we put a complete game together,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “The offense, defense and pitching all came through. They hit Jess toward the end, but our defense clutched up and Jess came though.”

In game two, the Huskies were blanked by the Chippewas, 5-0. It was the third time this season the Huskies were held scoreless.

Freshman pitcher Becca Rupard and junior pitcher Allyson Hecht gave up a combined five runs, two earned, in six innings. Three Huskie errors led to three unearned runs for CMU.

The Huskies recorded five hits and drew three walks in game two, but they failed to push anything across the plate.

“Our offense does a good job at putting runs up, so any time we’re shut out you have to tip your hat to the other pitcher,” Sutcliffe said. “We hit balls hard, but we just hit them right to defensive players.”

Eastern Michigan

The Huskies beat the Eagles, 8-6, in 11 innings Saturday; it was the Huskies’ first win in four extra-inning games this season.

Trailing 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning, sophomore catcher Emily Naegele and Sturm each singled in one run with two outs to the game, 4-4.

In the top of the ninth inning, Naegele put the Huskies up 6-4 when she hit a two-run home run to left-center field; however, the Eagles battled back and posted a two-spot of their own in the bottom of the ninth inning to extend the game even longer.

In the 11th inning, junior right fielder Bryanna Phelan and senior left fielder Nicole Gremillion singled in one run each. The Huskies held on to win, 8-6, in eleven innings.

“We did a good job of not allowing [the Eagles] to continue with the momentum after they tied the game in the ninth [inning],” Sutcliffe said. “We could have folded, but we didn’t, and that tells a lot about our team’s character because we fought, we got our chance and we came through in the 11th [inning].”

In the Sunday finale, the Huskies dropped a 4-3 decision to the Eagles in eight innings.

The Eagles walked off with a 4-3 victory, singling in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth after they tied the game, 3-3, with a run in the bottom of the seventh to force extras.

The Huskies scored their three runs when Naegele hit a three-run home run to left-center field in the fourth inning.

Sutcliffe said the Huskies had big innings set up, but the batters tried to do too much at the plate and took too long into the game to adjust to the pitcher. They stranded seven runners.

“This is a weekend that going 2-2 is not good enough,” Sutcliffe said. “We should have gone 3-1 and put some distance between ourselves and our opponents, but we just didn’t do it.”