Rams pitcher #33 Lori Sturgill pictured here in a previous home game was barely out-dueled by Lock Havens Bekkah Slattery in Friday's regional play (Credit: Shepherd University Athletic Department)

Rams softball successful in Saturday double header against Edinboro 5-3, and Gannon 3-2

Shepherd softball took on Edinboro and Gannon in neutral site games in Salem, Virginia, Saturday and won both games. With the wins the Rams improved their record to (7-3), and with the loss in the early game, Edinboro falls to a (0-3) record.

The games were part of the Salem tournament, which began Friday.

The Fighting Scots wasted no time in putting runs on the board as their third at bat of the game resulted in a solo home run for Edinboro center fielder Olivia Jankowski before the side was retired. Shepherd responded in the second inning by retaking the lead off a fielder’s error by Edinboro’s second basemen Abby Sallot, which allowed junior first basemen Connor Gilligan and junior pitcher Lori Sturgill to advance home.

The momentum swung back in favor of the Fighting Scots in the top of the third inning after a two-run home run with just one out by right fielder Shannon Gilbert, which brought home designated hitter Danna Heh.

The home run temporarily gave Edinboro the 3-2 lead until the Rams next at bat in the bottom of the third.

This time around, Gilligan hit the two RBI double that brought fellow Rams Lori Sturgill and junior catcher Rachel Taylor home with the help of another fielding error, this time by Fighting Scot left fielder Lauren Gierlak.

In a pinch-hit situation for sophomore third basemen Allison Baker, Molly Staley hit a RBI single allowing Gilligan to score. The scoring stopped  at 5-3 for both teams as pitching took control from that point on. Sturgill secured her first win of the season and now stands at (1-2) after 4.2 innings in early game action. Rams pitcher Taylor Stocks also got two innings of game action in the win.

“This early in the season, we didn’t know a whole lot about Edinboro or Gannon, so we didn’t change our strategy much” Rams head coach Marissa Leslie said. “The only change between the games was our plan with our pitching staff.  We wanted to utilize our pitchers in a way so that we had a balance for both games. And they threw really well. Of course, on the hitting side of things, our players adjusted to each opposing pitcher they faced, which is why we were successful on the weekend as a whole.”

In the second game of the double header the Rams defeated Gannon 3-2 in a game where Shepherd needed a late game comeback effort to get the win, a completely different script then the previous match with Edinboro. With the loss the Knights fall to a record of (7-7)

Neither team was able to get a run home in the early going of the match as Gannon struck first in their third inning at bat. With two outs, Knights shortstop Sarah Ingerick brought home center fielder Kellyn Perich and third basemen Ashley Bower on a two RBI double.

Rams junior outfielder Morgan Cox trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the third inning after bringing home junior center fielder Kaitlyn Konopka but the Rams could not capitalize any further, leaving Cox stranded on base.

The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when pitcher Lori Sturgill was walked with the bases loaded, which brought home junior outfielder Ariana Ramirez. Again, the Rams left runs on the field as the side was retired and the score remained tied at 2-2.

The Rams were able to get the last say in who won the late game as it took until the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the 3-2 final score. Catcher Rachel Taylor was able to hit a walk off RBI single to left field that brought Kaitlyn Konopka home for the final run and the fourth win of the weekend.

Rams Pitcher for the second game Kaitlin Munda improved her record to (3-1) on the season after pitching a complete game and allowing just three total hits.

“In game 1, it was Lori Sturgill coming in on mound,” Leslie said.  “She really didn’t allow Edinboro any window of opportunity to get on base or score.

“In game 2, Gannon made a substitution on the mound for the 6th and 7th inning and that allowed our hitters to start fresh.  We didn’t hit their starter very hard, so the change made us refocus. The focus and adjustments are what allowed us to tie the game up in the 6th and win it in the 7th,” Leslie said. “Overall, our defense played great all weekend, so it really gave us stability on the mound and our hitters were consistent.  All you can ask for as a coach.”

The Rams now get to look forward to their first home games of the year when they take on Glenville State in a double header March 17 at 1 p.m.

Vaughn  Brewer is a sports writer for the Picket, he can be reached at vbrewe01@rams.shepherd.edu

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