Shepherd Softball Splits with Urbana (Ohio)

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The Rams, pictured here against Shippensburg, struggled to find offense to support their stellar pitching in game one, but found a rhythm offensively in game two.

In a home double-header against the Blue Knights (10-14, 7-9 MEC) Sunday afternoon, the Rams (22-11, 10-6 MEC) split with the Blue Knights. Unable to find any offense against the Blue Knights in game one, the Rams lost 2-0. However, in game two, the Rams bounced back, to the tune of five runs in a 5-1 victory.

Game one was an offensive struggle for the Rams, although they did have their chances. Sophomore shortstop/outfielder Kaitlyn Konopka tripled to center field to lead off the bottom of the first inning for the Rams, but she would not be able to advance home. The next three Rams’ batters all grounded out to end the inning.

Konopka came up the plate in the bottom of the third inning and again got on base, this time with a double. However, the Rams could not get her home then either. Sophomore first/third baseman Connor Gilligan also doubled in the sixth inning, but starting pitcher Carly Allen (W, 6-7) did all she could to keep the Rams from getting home.

Allen (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 SO) threw a complete-game shutout, continually frustrating the Rams; batters.

The Blue Knights’ offense gave her just enough to earn the win. With a scoreless game in the top of the sixth inning, catcher Margo Jackson came through in the clutch, delivering a RBI double that brought in outfielder Courtney Kennedy to give the Blue Knights a 1-0 lead.

Jackson would later come in to score with a RBI double to center field, coming off the bat of infielder Caitlyn Stone. This put the Blue Knights up 2-0.

Even with just a two-run deficit, this would prove to be too much for the Rams to overcome. In the bottom of the seventh and final inning, the Rams were not able to get on base, as they went on to lose by a 2-0 score.

Junior pitcher Kaitlin Munda (L, 8-7) fought hard all game long for the Rams (2 ER, 4 H, 9 SO), but was out-dueled by Allen.

Game two would prove to be a different story for the Rams, however. The Blue Knights did start off the game nicely, with a RBI single by Jackson in the top of the first inning to provide the Blue Knights with a 1-0 lead, but really could not find the offensive spark they needed for the rest of the game.

Senior starting pitcher Tara Hanson (W, 10-3) gave the Rams someone to rally around. She allowed only four baserunners in her six innings of work (4 H, 1 ER, 5 SO), Hanson prevented any real momentum to be gained offensively for the Blue Knights after that first inning run.

Hanson, unlike Munda, got good run support from her offense. In the bottom of the fourth inning, junior outfielder Jessica Robinson delivered with a two-RBI double that brought in sophomore catcher/infielder Rachel Taylor and fellow sophomore outfielder/second baseman Ariana Ramirez.

Now with a 2-1 lead, the Rams needed more comfort on a day where offense was hard to come by. Gilligan gave them the comfort they needed, as she stretched the lead to 5-1 with her three-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Lori Sturgill came in the game in the seventh inning and closed out the game for the Rams. After walking outfielder Jenna VanHoose, Sturgill settled down and found her composure, as she got the next three Blue Knights to either pop out or ground out to end the game.

Allen (L, 6-8) also got the game two start, but could not replicate what she produced in game one. Her command appeared to falter in game two, as she walked five Rams in the loss.

Right now, the Rams are currently first in the North Division in the Mountain East Conference Standings.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Rams take the field again when they travel to Lock Haven University for a double-header. Game one begins at 2:30 p.m., followed by game two at 4:30 p.m.

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