The Shepherd Rams softball team (9-3, 2-0 MEC) pushed its win streak to six games by taking both games of a home double-header against the visiting Glenville State Pioneers (9-9, 0-2 MEC) on Saturday afternoon, March 17, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Saturday afternoon served as the home opener for the Rams, who played their first 10 games on the road to begin the season.
Game one went into extra innings and ended in dramatic fashion for the Rams, who won in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to a wild pitch by Pioneers freshman pitcher Celina Maberto that gave ample time for Rams freshman second baseman Leann Brown to come in and score the game-winning run to give the Rams a 4-3 victory.
Neither side was able to generate any runs until the top of the fourth inning, when, on a double steal attempt, Pioneers senior catcher McKenzie Edmonds stole second base, while sophomore left fielder Jeri Potter caught the Rams’ defense sleeping and stole home plate to get the Pioneers on the scoreboard.
It was a desperation attempt, but the gamble paid off handsomely for the Pioneers to give them a 1-0 lead.
An RBI-single by freshman shortstop Catherine Pelfrey drove home sophomore first baseman Hannah Wright to provide the Pioneers with a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. The Rams were starting to run out of chances to tie the game, needing a big swing from someone to give them life offensively.
Junior Lori Sturgill, who normally gets opposing batters out on the mound with her stellar pitching abilities, provided this spark that the Rams needed offensively. Sturgill, serving as a pinch hitter, blasted a bases-clearing triple to left center field in the bottom of the sixth inning that brought home junior first baseman Connor Gilligan and shortstop Ashley Burger to tie the game at a 2-2 score.
Sturgill reached home plate to give the Rams a 3-2 lead on a fielder’s choice after junior pinch hitter Alexis Shearer hit a ground ball to the Pioneers’ defense.
The Rams were not able to close the game out in the top of the seventh inning, however, as Pioneers junior pitcher Ally Brown smacked an RBI-double to right field to tie the game at a 3-3 score.
Shepherd would go on to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning by a 4-3 score thanks to Maberto’s error.
Sophomore starting pitcher Tori Ward (L, 3-2) took the loss for the Pioneers against the Rams in game one. Ward pitched fairly well by allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits, but appeared to struggle with controlling her pitches, as evidenced by the five Rams she walked on the afternoon. Against the Rams, Ward had just two strikeouts.
Sophomore Taylor Stocks (W, 1-0) came in relief for the Rams during the final two innings and did not allow a hit or walk in those two innings, providing a clutch performance for the Rams with her six strikeouts.
Game two did not prove to be nearly as challenging for the Rams, who shut out the Pioneers through the first five innings of play thanks to a strong pitching effort from Sturgill (W, 3-2).
In six innings of work, Strugill really locked down the Pioneers’ lineup, surrendering just two runs on six hits, walking three, and striking out three Pioneers in an all-around solid performance.
Sturgill received seven runs of support in the first two innings alone, as Brown (L, 6-4) could never seem to find her groove against the deep and talented Rams’ lineup.
Brown lasted just one and two-thirds innings against the Rams, giving up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits. She walked two Rams and struck out just one Rams in what was a difficult afternoon for Brown to say the least.
Sturgill provided two runs herself with another big hit, this one a an RBI-single to left field in the bottom of the first inning. Rams junior right fielder Morgan Cox came in to score on the play, as did Brown, thanks to an error by Potter. This gave the Rams a 2-0 lead, but the Rams were not satisfied with this lead just yet.
Still in the bottom of the first inning, senior catcher Molly Staley brought two more Rams home with her RBI-double to center field, which stretched the Rams’ lead to 4-0 through one inning of play.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Rams increased their lead to 6-0 thanks to an RBI-single to left field by junior third baseman Rachel Taylor that drove home junior center fielder Kaitlyn Konopka. Also, during the play, Cox came around to score again for the Rams thanks to another error by Potter, increasing the Rams’ lead to 6-0 at this point.
Sturgill provided the Rams with her second RBI of the game with a single to left field that gave Taylor enough time to come in to score, stretching the Rams’ lead to a 7-0 score through two innings of play.
The only runs that the Pioneers managed to score came off an RBI-triple from senior center fielder Hayley Olson and an RBI groundout to second base by sophomore right fielder Taylor Brumfield that brought Olson home to score. These two runs made the final score look more respectable, but the Rams would go on to close out the Pioneers by a 7-2 score, cementing the double-header sweep by the Rams.
In both games, the Rams were able to largely shut down the Pioneers’ offense thanks to solid pitching performances. Offensively, the Rams made plays at key times and adjusted to the Pioneers’ pitching tactics, leading to a more productive outing in game two.
On Sunday afternoon, March 18, the Rams will attempt to push their win streak to eight games by hopefully taking both games of another home double-header when they take on the visiting West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats. Game one begins at 2 p.m., followed by game two at 4 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the sports editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org