TIFFIN, Ohio – Capital University Softball played it close with Heidelberg University but the Student Princes eventually prevailed twice in a sweep over the Crusaders on Thursday afternoon.
GAME 1 - Capital 2, Heidelberg 8
Both teams jostled for the lead through the first four innings of play. When the Crusaders scored in both the first and fourth inning, the Student Princes struck back. A four-run fourth inning skewed the scale in Heidelberg's favor and led to their victory.
Senior Pam Vickers (Sagamore Hills, Ohio/Nordonia) led the game off with a single and made her way to third by way of a groundout and a passed ball. She was challenged after taking a large secondary lead but the catcher's throw hit her and skid far enough away to allow her to score and give Cap an early 1-0 lead.
The Berg used a bit of small ball to account for its responding run in the bottom half of the inning. Renee Lovett led the inning off with a single, was moved to second via a sacrifice bunt and then scored on Casey Moore's single to right center field.
After two scoreless innings, Capital struck again. Senior Bailey Walter (Ashland, Ohio/Crestview) hit a one-out single and then scored from first after Haleigh Luce singled to right field and the ball was misplayed by the fielder.
The lead was short when Heidelberg retaliated with one run in the bottom of the fourth. Haylee Patel doubled to right center field and then stole third. With one out, Kaitlin Keys put down a squeeze bunt. Despite the bunt being hit directly to pitcher Brianna Reardon, her throw was a shade late as Patel dove head first around catcher Chevonne Haylett's tag.
Heidelberg scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth off of Reardon (L, 5-11) following RBI singles by Casey Moore and Haylee Patel, plus a two-RBI triple by Kaitlyn Moore. Sarah Franczak extinguished the fire, but the Student Princes tagged on two more runs in the sixth to account for the 8-2 score.
GAME 2 - Capital 4, Heidelberg 5 (F/8)
Capital pushed Heidelberg to the limit in game two, forcing extra innings to decide a winner. The additional frames came only after the Crusaders mounted a four-run fifth inning which gave them a short-lived lead but was crucial in getting them into a position to challenge for the win.
Down 3-0 heading into the top of the fifth, freshman Erica Ogden (Grove City, Ohio/Bishop Ready) generated some life both in the offense and on the CU bench when she lofted her first career home run over the right center field fence. The homer put the Crusaders on the board and began a string of seven consecutive hits that helped the Purple and White plate three additional runs.
After Ogden's dinger, Chevonne Hayslett (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg East) singled through the left side of the infield and was followed up by Morgan Fadel's single to center. Vickers made it a one-run game with a single of her own and after a run scored and after play ceased the Crusaders found themselves with runners at second and third. Freshman Alyx Slusher then belted a two-run single through the right side to give Capital its first lead of the game, 4-3.
The lead did not last long. In the home half of the inning Heidelberg's four hitter, Abby McKee, hit a run-scoring double that tied the game at four. From there, the teams were deadlocked and required an eighth inning.
Capital was retired in order in the top of the eighth by relief pitcher Mogan Daniels (W, 3-0) however the same could not be said for the host Student Princes. Two walks by Hayslett (L, 1-5) set the table for a walk off, run-scoring single to end the game, 5-4.
In the loss, Hayslett went all 7.2 innings and surrendered five runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking three.
The top of the Capital order performed well, going 6-for-11 in the top three spots of the lineup. Luce also joined Vickers, Slusher and Cory Mangen with two hits with a 2-for-4 effort in game two.