INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Forester softball team lived up to its 3rd-seeded billing by going 3-2 over the two-day tourney to finish third in the Crossroads League tournament hosted by Marian University.
Pitching proved to be the name of the game and with ace pitcher Marcie McDougle plagued by a nagging injury, HU’s three freshmen hurlers were thrown into the fire and more than lived up to the challenge.
Through the first four games, they tossed 19.2 of the 26 innings and gave a mere 11 hits, three runs and seven walks while striking out 20.
Against 6th-seeded Grace College in the opening round, the Foresters gave up a run in the top of the first but quickly erased the advantage in their half of the frame on their way to an 8-4 win.
Cristin Carter got things started with a double into left and came around to score two batters later on a Lindsay Shellabarger sacrifice fly. HU’s next two runs came by way of a Katie Knous single and Lancer error to put HU on top 3-1.
Huntington tacked on two more runs in the second highlighted by Knous’ second RBI base poke of the day to push the lead to 5-1 but the Lancers weren’t ready to lay down and die. They scratched and clawed their way back into it, scoring a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to knot things up at 5-5.
But it was business as usual for the Foresters as they came up with timely hits in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead and cruise to the win. Annie Weaver opened up with a lead-off triple, the first of her collegiate career, and cruised home on a Carter double. Later in the inning, Knous piled on a few more runs with a two-run shot to give her team a comfortable 8-4 lead that stuck.
Marcie McDougle collected her seventh win of the season, giving up six hits and four runs while striking out two. To date, the junior hurler has only given up three walks on the season to earn the top spot in the NAIA for walks allowed per 9 (0.34).
HU finished with ten hits with Knous and Carter leading the way. Knous finished with three hits, four RBI and scored twice while Carter also posted three base pokes to go along with three runs scored and an RBI.
With only a short break before reconvening, the 3rd-seeded Foresters met up with 2nd-seeded Bethel College in a pitcher’s duel that featured only eight hits. Bethel’s Natalie Newell won the battle with a three-hit shutout to guide her team to a 3-0 win and send the Foresters into the consolation bracket.
Newell affectively shut down HU’s offense as only two Foresters made it past first base. It was Weaver, Knous and Katie DePew who were able to hammer out hits as Newell fanned 12 Huntington batters.
Despite a solid performance on the mound, Emily Puterbaugh was charged with the loss by giving up four hits, three runs and four walks while striking out 11 in six innings of work. Ariel Sheets came on in relief to toss the final inning where she gave up one hit.
Playing their third game of the day, the Foresters bounced back to knock No. 8 Spring Arbor University out of the tournament with a 5-0 win over the Cougars.
Kaylin Yon pitched a dandy, a one-hit shutout, to claim her seventh win of the season. She gave up only one walk while striking out seven in the complete-game victory.
HU spent the second and third innings logging all five of its runs to blow the game wide open. Pazia Speed pounded out a two-run single in the second to give her team the early 2-0 advantage.
Huntington grew the lead to 4-0 on back-to-back RBI singles by Carter and Bowers in the third. Shellabarger rounded out the game’s scoring with a run-scoring ground out in that same inning as the final four frames proved to be uneventful.
Knous finished with two hits to pace her team offensively while five other Foresters each registered a hit to account for HU’s seven hits.
There was not rest for the weary as the Foresters took the field again at noon on Thursday to face 7th-seeded Taylor University who had upset Grace and Saint Francis on Wednesday to keep their play-off hopes alive.
They were well on their way to their third upset, hanging onto a 2-1 lead through the first four innings, before HU’s bats came to life in the final innings to pull out the 3-2 come-from-behind win.
Allison Greene picked the perfect time to register her first collegiate career homerun. Her solo shot in the top of the fifth pulled her squad even with the Trojans. It turned the tide as Coach Gower’s squad carried momentum into the sixth where Bowers, who had opened up the inning with a double, scored the game-winner on a Taylor error to send the Trojans packing.
In addition to her four-bagger, Greene also logged a run-scoring single in the top of the second to pace HU with two hits, two RBI and a run scored. Bowers also finished with two hits to go along with a run scored.
Starting pitcher Marcie McDougle tossed the first 1.1 innings and gave up four hits and two runs before giving way to Emily Puterbaugh who tallied her second win of the tourney. The right-handed hurler pitched 5.2 inning of scoreless relief, giving up two hits and two walks while fanning one.
The Foresters seemed to run out of steam in their afternoon matchup against top-seeded Marian University. The Knights eliminated HU from the tourney by blanking their visitors 8-0 in a short, five-inning contest.
HU came up empty on the scoreboard, scattering five hits and leaving five batters stranded in the contest. On the other hand, Marian muscled 12 hits and took advantage of two Forester errors on their way to scoring eight runs. It was MU’s second shutout win over Huntington this season.
Coach Gower used all three of his freshmen pitchers with Yon taking the loss. She worked the first 1.1 innings and gave up six hits and two runs. Sheets and Puterbaugh combined over the final 4.1 innings to give up six hits and six runs, two of which were of the unearned variety, and two walks while striking out one.
Knous, Yon and Weaver were named to the All-Tournament Team. The Foresters wrap up the season with a 23-18 record.