Shepherd Softball Continues Winning Streak Against Notre Dame (Ohio)

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The Rams, pictured here last season, had their offense come through at timely opportunities on Sunday afternoon to help them finish with a 2-0 record on the day in the Coker Spring Tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Shepherd University's Athletics Department).

The Rams (21-10, 7-9 MEC) won both home games Saturday afternoon against the Falcons (15-16, 9-5 MEC) to continue their winning streak, which now stands at six games. In game one, the Rams won 4-2, and took game two by a 10-4 score.

With a 4-2 victory in game one, the Rams received excellent pitching from junior pitcher Kaitlin Munda. She did allow eight hits, but walked none. Munda kept the majority of Falcons’ runners from advancing home, with her five strikeouts partially to thank. In her complete game featuring seven innings of work, Munda allowed two runs, but only one of them was earned.

Both of those runs came in the top of the third inning for the Falcons. Catcher/infielder Nicole Luciano shot a RBI single up the middle to right field, as pitcher/infielder Emily Kusmits came in to score, giving the Falcons an early 1-0 lead.

The lead grew to 2-0 when catcher Maria Vanadia singled up the middle, but got greedy as she headed for second base, where threw a relay of throws, she was tagged out. However, thanks to the throws being a little off, second baseman Sarah Depp rounded third base and scored the unearned run.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, that would be the all the offense they would be able to manage against Munda, who frequently frustrated them during the game.

In the bottom of the third inning, freshman utility player Bailee Jackson got to first base thanks to a fielder’s choice. She was credited with a RBI, as junior utility player Sarah North ran home to cut the lead to 2-1.

With the same score in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Rams were beginning to run out of time to mount a comeback. However, their bats woke up, scoring three runs in the inning. The first of these came thanks to a RBI single to right field by sophomore first/third baseman Connor Gilligan.

Sophomore catcher/infielder Rachel Taylor countered with a RBI single to bring in senior third/first baseman Alexandra Witt. Taylor got to second base on an errant throw by the Falcons’ defense.

Now with a 3-2 lead, Gilligan scored the fourth run thanks to a RBI single to left center field by senior outfielder Paige Buckworth.

Depp struck out with no runners on base in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the 4-2 win in game one for the Rams.

Starting pitcher Taylor Olson had a nice game for the Falcons (4.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 1 SO) but threw two wild pitches that certainly did not help matters.

In game two, with a 5-1 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning, things were looking very well for the Rams. However, the Falcons dug deep and showed great heart, scoring three runs in the inning to cut the lead to 5-4.

All three runs were courtesy of the long ball, as Vanadia hit a solo-shot homerun. Then, infielder Perris Stevens launched a two-run homerun to narrow the score to just 5-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.

Senior starting pitcher Tara Hanson (5.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 5 SO) could not continue her strong play in the sixth inning, as she was relieved by sophomore pitcher Lori Sturgill.

After seeing their lead nearly dwindled, the Rams responded by scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Gilligan had a single to left field that drove home two runs for the Rams. Buckworth reached on a fielder’s choice later in the inning, as Witt crossed home plate.

Then, sophomore second baseman/shortstop Morgan Cox had a RBI single through the left side that gave ample time for Buckworth to come home.

Just as soon as the Rams had nearly lost their four-run lead, they got it back and then some in the bottom of the inning.

Sturgill would close out the game for the Rams, although the Falcons certainly made it interesting. After starting out the inning with two outs, the Falcons blasted two singles to make the Rams nervous that they might nearly blow the lead again.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, infielder Shelby Stephens lined out to center field to end their comeback bid, cementing the Rams’ 10-4 win.

Kusmits (4 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 0 SO) got the game two start, but lasted just 2.1 innings against the Rams’ high-octane offense.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rams will seek to augment their win streak, as they host Urban University (Ohio) in a double-header matchup. Game one starts at 1 p.m., followed by game two at 3:00 p.m.

Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at abrack02@rams.shepherd.edu