Holly Smith knew her St. Catharine College softball team would be in for a battle last weekend as they welcomed the Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats for a four game series to open the season. But even though the Patriots dropped three of the four games, they were in position to win all but one of the contests.
The series opened Friday with a 9-6 Wildcats’ win in the opener and a 9-8 loss in the nightcap. The Patriots saw their offense throttled in Saturday’s opener when they lost 9-0 but they salvaged a win in the series final Saturday with a 14-13 walk-off win over the No. 24 ranked IWU squad.
“I was impressed with our effort,” said Smith. “For the most part we played good defense. Our pitching was not as bad as the scores might indicate. We really don’t have any pitchers who can dominate and they are number 24 for a reason.”
In Friday’s opener the Patriots battled the Wildcats to a 6-6 deadlock through six innings. But the Wildcats hit their third homer of the game in the top of the seventh, a three-run shot, to clinch the 9-6 win.
Krystal Cammuse surrendered the long ball as she worked all seven innings, allowing eight hits while striking out eight and walking seven. Brittany McKee and Hagan Goldey each had two hits as the Patriots matched the Wildcats with eight safeties. Both of McKee’s hits were doubles.
Friday’s second game was an even tougher loss for Smith’s team as they staged a huge fifth inning rally to take an 8-7 lead only to give it up when the Wildcats plated two runs in the sixth for the 9-8 win in the game called after six innings due to darkness.
The Patriots used the long ball for the six run rally in the fifth frame. Taylor Steff singled to knock in Brandi Hood to make the score 7-3. McKee then unloaded a long grand slam to tie the score 7-7 and Shelbi Thornhill followed that with a solo shot for an 8-7 SC lead.
But Indiana Wesleyan, 4-1 after the weekend, got a two-run homer in the top of the sixth to regain the lead, 9-8. And that is where it ended although the Patriots had the tying run at third in the bottom of the sixth when Steff flied to right to end the game.
The Patriots had 10 hits in the game with Goldey and Hillary Dwyer having two each.
St. Catharine managed just five hits, Hood with two of those, in Saturday’s opener as they were blanked 9-0. Cammuse allowed seven of the runs (four earned) in 3.2 innings and reliever Ashley Hardin gave up the other two in 2.1 innings in the game called after six innings due to the run rule.
Saturday’s nightcap looked like it might be more disappointment for the Patriots as the Wildcats again put up two runs in the final at-bat to take a 13-12 lead. But St. Catharine scored two runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh for the 14-13 win.
Hood singled to start the rally. Goldey then reached base when her attempt at a sacrifice bunt was misplayed by the IWU third baseman. Then when Steff bunted to move up the runners the Wildcats’’ first baseman couldn’t force Hood out at third and the bases were loaded. McKee wasted little time in taking advantage of the fielding miscues as she lined a double down the left field line to give the Patriots the one run win.
Hood and Goldey each had four hits and McKee and Emily Fenwick had two each as the Patriots pounded out 17 hits.
Ashley Hardin pitched the final 3.1 innings in relief to pick up the victory. She allowed
three runs on six hits. McKee started the game and allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings. Cammuse worked 1.1 innings and allowed three runs before leaving the game with a knee injury.
The Patriots continue their homestand this week with three more doubleheaders. Thursday they take on non-conference foe Union College beginning at 2:00. The conference schedule opens Saturday when Georgetown visits for a 1:00 first pitch. On Sunday, Ohio-University-Chillicothe is at Salt River Electric Field for a twin bill staring at 1:00.