The softball program at Shawnee State opened its season up in competitive fashion during its opening day of competition at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic, with the Bears losing by a scant one-run margin to NCAA Division II Chestnut Hill (Pa.), 3-2, in Tuesday afternoon’s opener but recovering for a one-run victory in extra innings over Brescia (Ky.), 7-6, in Tuesday’s nightcap to start the season 1-1 overall.
In the first contest, Shawnee State freshman Madison Sifford opened up her SSU career with a promising start. The Minford product pitched a complete game six-hitter and gave up just two earned runs throughout the affair to keep the Bears in business through the duration of the game.
Offensively, Shawnee State capitalized early as a single by Jaymee Sommer was followed by a two-run homer by Kalle Coleman in the latter’s first at-bat with SSU after transferring in from Morehead State.
The shortstop’s big fly gave the Bears a 2-0 lead after the opening frame of work, but Chestnut Hill rallied back. The Griffins cut the lead in half on an RBI double from Alessandra Messina to cut the SSU advantage to a 2-1 count, then took the point in the bottom of the sixth as a leadoff single by Gabrielle O’Bryne, an error and a walk allowed Haley Furlong to shoot a two-RBI single back up the middle of the diamond to grab a 3-2 lead heading into the final frame.
Shawnee State, who left five runners on base — one apiece in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh frames — threatened in the seventh frame as Ashton Rankin and Ashtyn Saunders each singled with two away in the bottom half of the inning, but a fielder’s choice groundout allowed Chestnut Hill to claim the win.
The offense, however, proved to be a non-issue in the second contest.
Saunders, who walked to begin the second contest, and Sommer, who reached on a single, were brought in as the Bears used a Haley Rawlins base knock and a sacrifice by Rankin to take a 2-0 lead out of the gate for the second time in as many contests.
Brescia answered with a run in the bottom half of the frame, but Shawnee State, after a scoreless second inning for both units, posted a crooked third frame with three runs as Sommer’s single to lead off the top of the frame, along with an RBI double from Coleman, an RBI single from Rankin and an RBI double from Mo Wolansky allowed the Bears to take a commanding 5-1 lead through two-and-a-half innings of work.
The Bearcats, behind two hits apiece from Courtney Klueppel, Haylee Frizzell, and Emma Turner, rallied back with five unanswered runs to allow Brescia to take a 6-5 advantage heading into the sixth frame, but after a scoreless sixth, Shawnee State obtained a massive one-out double from Coleman to tie the game and send the contest to extras.
In the top half of the eighth inning, Rankin and Wolansky teamed up to provide SSU with the additional run it needed.
Rankin, who led off the inning, posted a single, and after being moved over to second base on a groundout, scored on Wolansky’s single down the left field line to provide the Bears with the winning run. Brescia put Turner and Keely Eans on second and third in the bottom half of the eighth frame, but Sifford, who worked two scoreless innings in relief, limited the damage by forcing three pop files in a row to keep the Bearcats from obtaining the necessary hit it needed to tie or win the game in the eighth.
With the victory, Shawnee State will turn its attention to Wednesday’s opponents at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic, which include countable contests against Midway (Ky.) and Piedmont International (N.C.) at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The Bears will also play Schoolcraft Junior College, a noncountable foe, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
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