Clutch Hitting, Relief Pitching Lead Crusaders to Sweep
The Capital University softball team clinched its 16th consecutive season of 20 wins or more Monday with a two-game sweep at Kenyon in a non-conference doubleheader at Gambier, Ohio.
The Crusaders (20-16 overall) won the opener 6-5 in eight innings before taking the second game 5-2 in six innings on a game called due to darkness.
In Game 1, a squeeze bunt by freshman pinch hitter Lizzie Strain (Burgettstown, Pa.) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning, and junior pitcher Alyssa Patznick (Newark, Ohio) shut down the Ladies (19-15) in the bottom half of the frame to seal the win.
After the international rule placed a runner at second to start the eighth, junior left fielder LeAnna Cotton (Okeechobee, Fla.) sacrificed pinch runner Jessica Robinson (Beavercreek, Ohio) to third, setting up Strain's winning play.
Capital had forced extra innings on a two-out base hit to center by freshman designated player Marisa Koss (Ostrander, Ohio) in the top of the seventh.
Patznick improved to 11-6 on the year, pitching the final six innings in relief of junior starter Brooke Billings (Clyde, Ohio). The two combined to strand 11 Kenyon runners during the game.
Swain tripled to lead off the contest and scored on a two-out single up the middle by junior first baseman Maura Rose (Williamsport, Pa.) to give Capital a 1-0 advantage.
Becker hit a two-out, solo home run, her sixth of the year, in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 2-2.
Trailing 4-2 in the top of the fifth, the Crusaders tied the game again as Swain knocked in a run and junior pinch hitter Emma Caputo (Columbus, Ohio) hit a sacrifice fly.
The Ladies took a 5-4 advantage in the bottom of the fifth and held it until the seventh.
In the nightcap, Capital jumped on the board in the top of the first as Koss bunted home Swain from third.
After Kenyon took a 2-1 lead after plating one run each in the first and second innings, the Crusaders tied the affair as Koss plated Swain again, this time with a two-out single through the left side.
Capital took control of the game in the top of the sixth with three runs. Koss registered her third RBI of the contest and reached on an error on a ground ball to second. Rose, the next batter, bunted home sophomore second baseman Brooklyn Staten (Grove City, Ohio). Koss then came around to score on Cotton's groundout to short.
Billings (8-9) recorded the win, tossing the last 4 2/3 innings in relief of reigning OAC Pitcher of the Week and freshman Amber Martinelli (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Billings struck out four and allowed just three hits in the stint.
Swain and sophomore catcher Sarah Nist (North Canton, Ohio) posted two hits apiece to lead the offense. Swain also finished with three stolen bases in the affair.
The Crusaders conclude non-conference play Wednesday at Bluffton. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.