Bluffton vs. Defiance
Bluffton claims berth in HCAC Tournament with 3-2 victory over Defiance
May 2, 2007
BLUFFTON, Ohio - In a game in which both teams had their share of chances, the Bluffton University softball team took advantage when it counted most and claimed a berth in the upcoming Heartland Conference softball tournament with a 3-2 victory over Defiance College on a chilly and breezy May 2, 2007. The Beavers improved to 14-15 overall, including a 9-6 mark in the HCAC while conference champion Defiance ended the regular season 22-17 overall and 13-2 in the HCAC.
Through the first three innings, the teams combined for just one hit, yet the Beavers let a prime opportunity slip away in the bottom of the third when they used a pair of errors to load the bases with only one out. Defiance wriggled out of the jam when the Yellow Jacket second baseman scooped up Brooke Babcock's (Findlay/Findlay) liner on a short hop and started the unorthodox double play with her throw to home.
Defiance took advantage of a leadoff error in the top of the fifth when Monica Sigurdson reached base safely. A walk and single by pinch hitter Kayla Crager loaded the bases for Aarika Davis who reached on a fielder's choice. Clutch shortstop Renee Steffen looped a single down the right field line, plating Laurel Palk and Krystle Skaziak for a 2-0 lead over the Beavers.
The Beavers wasted no time knotting up the score. Kellie Kenney (Toledo/Emmanuel Baptist) opened the bottom of the fifth with an infield single. Defiance could not field Katie Ammons (Findlay/Findlay) attempted sacrifice and when Laura Brown (Sullivan/Black River) reached safely, the bags were full. Two sharp line-outs later, Jayme Marbaugh (Ohio City/Parkway) dropped a two-RBI single into short leftfield, making the score 2-2 after five innings.
Two more shutout innings set up the dramatic finish for the Beavers in the eighth. While trying to bunt Melanie Bushman to third, Amanda Auzins was called for batter's interference when the ball hit her on the way to first. A hit batter and Stephanie Lieto single loaded the bases with only one out, but Babcock struck out Jessica Smith and ended the threat by inducing a comebacker which she handled with ease.
With Marbaugh placed on second to open the bottom of the eighth, Carrie Weisbecker (Okeana/Ross) executed a perfect sacrifice bunt and Defiance was not able to record an out. She moved into scoring position when Jenna Mayer (Lima/Shawnee) was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. Gretchen Handley (Ashland/Ashland) delivered the game-winning RBI when she scalded a Julie Miller offering to right field, giving the Beavers a 3-2 victory over Defiance.
Babcock (5-7) picked up the win, working three scoreless innings for Bluffton. She gave up two hits, struck out one batter and walked three Yellow Jackets. Kenney limited Defiance to two unearned runs on four hits in five innings on the mound.
Ammons, Marbaugh and Tonya Dean (Kettering/Kettering) all scored for the Beavers while Marbaugh drove in two.
The Beavers earned a spot in the upcoming HCAC Tournament which will be held at Defiance College by virtue of the Yellow Jackets' first place regular season finish. Bluffton will face Defiance in the 1 vs. 4 matchup at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 4, 2007.