PLANT CITY, Fla. - The Bluffton University women's softball team lost a heartbreaker in game one as it took nine innings to finish, but eventually Muskingum won the game 7-6 after two innings of the international tie-breaker. Game two saw Penn St.-Behrend hold on for the 9-5 victory. The Beavers are now 2-6 on the season heading into their final day in Florida.
Muskingum struck first in the bottom of the first inning, scoring two runs on just one hit. The Beavers didn't take long to respond as they played with a sense of urgency in the top of the second inning. Megan Hill (Arcadia) doubled to start the inning thanks to a rocket to left field. Brianna Baker (Defiance/Ayersville) singled to center field, moving Hill to third. Taylor Steinke (Findlay) eventually pushed Hill home with her groundout. The Beavers made it 2-2 when Kelsey Reeder (Galion) singled home Baker. Muskingum snatched back the lead in the bottom of the second as they put up one run, doing their damage with two outs and they led 3-2 after two over Bluffton.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both squads, the Beavers got their bats warmed up in the top of the fifth. Courtney Jasinski (Englewood/Northmont) started things off with a double down the left field line. Caylin Morstadt (Delaware/Rutherford B. Hayes) hit a single through the left side, advancing Jasinski to third with no outs. Hill walked, and just like that the bases were loaded. After a passed ball, Jasinski sprinted home while Morstadt and Hill moved up 60 feet apiece. Sophomore Riley Langstaff (Findlay) stepped to the plate with one out and hit a single that scored Morstadt and sent Hill to third. Langstaff crossed the dish on a wild pitch, giving Bluffton a 5-4 lead over the Fighting Muskies.
The Beavers went into the bottom of the seventh clinging to that 5-4 lead. Muskingum needed a run to force extra innings and they found a way to get it. The Beavers committed a throwing error that knotted the score at 5-5. Bluffton was able to get itself out of trouble as they stranded two on base.
Bluffton put the pressure on Muskingum in the eighth when Reeder scored on a wild pitch. With two outs in the bottom of the frame, Bluffton needed to get one batter out to win the game, 6-5. However, Alexia Dowdle singled up the middle with a runner on third, forcing a ninth inning.
Bluffton was unable to do damage in the top of the ninth, leaving the door open for Muskingum. The Fighting Muskies won the ball game in walk-off fashion as they had the bases loaded and ripped a single to left center, ending the thrilling game with a 7-6 victory.
Molly Bollinger (Lima) went a perfect 4-for-4 for the Purple team. Seven others had just one hit, while Reeder, Langstaff, and Baker all had RBI's in the game. Jasinski got the start on the mound, pitching four solid innings while giving up four runs. Alexis Montemarano (Brook Park) tossed 4.1 innings of relief and allowed just three runs on five hits.
Bluffton had 11 hits in 37 at-bats, while Muskingum had 11 hits in 32 at-bats. The downside was that the Beavers left 12 runners on base, unable to capitalize on many opportunities.
In game two, Penn St.-Behrend got the bats cracking early in the top of the first as they put up two runs on three hits.
The top of the second was the same old story as Behrend added two more runs. The Beavers were able to get runners on base in the bottom of the second inning. Steinke grounded out, scoring Morstadt after her bunt single started the inning. Casey Clark (Lima/Central Catholic) doubled to left center, scoring Hill and cutting the deficit to 4-2 after two innings.
Behrend scored one more in the top of the third, making it 5-2. The Beavers responded as Jasinski singled to center field, scoring Reeder after she started off the inning with a double down the right field line! Bluffton trailed 5-3 after three.
After both teams failed to score in the fourth inning, Penn St.-Behrend did their damage in the top of the fifth. They scored four runs on five hits, rolling through their entire batting lineup before the inning ended. They did leave the bases loaded when the inning ended so the Beavers still had a chance to come back. Bluffton pulled closer with two tallies in the bottom of the fifth. Langstaff doubled to left center field, scoring both Sydney Bowen (Convoy/Crestview) and Jasinski. That was the end of the scoring with Bluffton dropping a 9-5 decision.
Both Morstadt and Jasinski went 2-for-4 in the game. Langstaff led the Beavers with two RBI's. Katie McCord (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) got the start for the Beavers, pitching 1.1 innings and giving up four runs in the loss. She now stands at 2-2 on the year. Bollinger relieved and pitched another 3.1 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Montemarano finished the game with her best outing of the week, tossing 2.1 innings of no-hit ball!
Bluffton has two more games left in the Sunshine State, starting with St. John Fisher at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 8, before the Beavers wrap up their trip against Northwest rival Ohio Northern. Go Beavers!