By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University softball team split a doubleheader with Manchester on Wednesday, April 3, in the first conference matchup of the season for both squads. Bluffton took game one by the score of 14-9, and Manchester bounced back in game two for a 14-6 victory. Bluffton is now 5-15 on the season (1-1 HCAC), while Manchester is sitting at 6-8 (1-1 HCAC). Both teams had the bats warmed up as they scored a combined 43 runs in two games!
Manchester got the lumber rolling in the top of the first as the Spartans went out to a 2-0 lead. To say the Beavers did some damage in the bottom of the third would be an understatement. The scoring plays were highlighted by a Sydney Bowen (Convoy) double that plated Kelsey Reeder (Galion). Caylin Morstadt (Delaware) singled and scored Bowen. Casey Clark (Lima) chipped in with a base hit, scoring Courtney Jasinski (Englewood). Riley Langstaff (Findlay) stepped up to the plate and rocketed a double to left center, picking up both Megan Hill (Arcadia) and Morstadt. Following a pitching change, Taylor Steinke (Findlay) drove in Langstaff and Clark. Bluffton piled up eight runs on five hits while Manchester also helped out the cause by committing three crucial errors in the inning.
The visitors cut the deficit to 8-4 when they scored twice in the top of the fourth. Bluffton added a run in the home half as Morstadt stepped to the plate and delivered a double that scored Jasinski, extending the lead to 9-4.
Manchester came right back, striking four runs in the top of the fifth inning to make the score 9-8. In the bottom of the sixth, Bluffton wasn't satisfied with a one-run lead. The Beavers blasted away with five runs on six hits, highlighted by singles from Molly Bollinger (Lima), Bowen, Jasinski and Hill. To cap off the great inning, Clark cracked a double which scored two runs. Manchester scored a run in the top of the seventh, but it was too little, too late, making the final score 14-9 in favor of the Beavers.
Clark was a perfect 4-for-4 with three RBI. Morstadt went 3-of-4 with three RBI and two runs. Bowen finished 3-for-4 and crossed the dish twice. Jasinski collected two hits and scored three times. Bollinger earned the start and she tossed 4.1 innings, giving up seven runs in her first win of the year. Sophomore Katie McCord (Lawrenceburg) worked the final two frames for her first save of the season.
Manchester started off game two in similar fashion to game one as they got in the scoring column with one run. In the bottom of the first, the Beavers did all of their damage with two outs. Jasinski and Morstadt both singled, and Jasinski would score when Morstadt's ball got through to the fence. Morstadt crossed the dish when Hill's shot to second was too hot to handle. The Beavers led 2-1 after one inning of action.
The Spartans separated themselves from the Beavers in the top of the second, scoring five runs on six hits. The Spartans would add one more run in the top of the third. In the bottom of the third, Bluffton got back to scoring runs the way that they were in the first game. Bowen lined a double that scored Reeder, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Morstadt picked up Bowen with a sacrifice fly to center field. Hill followed with a solo bomb over the center field fence, making the score 7-5 at the end of three innings.
After Manchester scored a run in the top of the frame, the Beavers responded with one of their own in the bottom half of the fourth. Langstaff started it off with a double to center field. Bollinger drove her in with a groundout, making the score 8-6 at the end of four rounds.
The rest of the game was dominated by the Spartans as they continued to extend their lead by scoring two runs in the sixth and four runs in the seventh en route to a 14-6 victory.
Jasinski took the mound for the Beavers to start game two, giving up six runs in 1.1 innings. McCord tossed the next 4.2 innings, surrendering 13 hits and seven runs. Bollinger pitching the final inning, giving up one run.
Manchester had 23 hits in game two, but the Spartans committed three errors to Bluffton's two.
The Beavers jump right back into action on Thursday, April 4, when they travel to Calvin for a doubleheader that will start at 3:30 PM. They are back in Bluffton on Sunday, April 7, when the Beavers host Ohio Wesleyan at 1 PM. Come out and support your Beavers!