Bluffton sweeps MSJ to open HCAC play
Bluffton opens HCAC play with mercy-rule sweep of the Mount
March 31, 2012
By: Martin Kluk, sports information intern
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton Beaver softball team opened up conference play on a high note with two dominating performances in a sweep of the Mount St. Joseph Lions. Both games went just five innings with the first being 8-0 and the second 9-1. Bluffton extended its winning streak to four games and improves to 14-10 on the season and 2-0 in the HCAC. MSJ slipped to 2-17 overall (1-5 HCAC).
Bluffton got on the board early as back-to-back doubles by Katie Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) and Lindsay Robertson (Cincinnati/Northwestern) scored Meagan Price (Toledo/Springfield) and Clark. After a wild pitch moved Robertson over to third, Natalie Nikitas (Jeffersonville, Ind.) picked her up on an RBI groundout to put the Beavers up 3-0 after the first.
The Beavers headed into the bottom half of the fifth up 4-0 and they went out and closed the door on the Lions with four more runs to end the game. Nikitas, who knocked in the fourth run in the third, notched her third RBI of the game on a double that scored Robertson. Chelsea Weitz (Dayton/Carroll) came on to run for Nikitas and she crossed the dish on a single by Emily Manahan (Columbus/Bishop Watterson).
A double play cleared the bases and gave the Lions two outs in the inning, but the Beaver bats were not done. Junior Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) singled and stole second before Shelby Erford (Paulding) sent her home on single of her own. She then stole second as well and after a Price walk, Chelsie Osborne (Chillicothe/Waverly) hit the fourth single of the inning which drove Erford home for the game-ending run.
Osborne led the team with three hits in the game, going 3-for-3, while Nikitas drove in three runs.
Chloe Shell (Covington) pitched all five innings in the game and was dominant, only giving up four hits while striking out three and not walking a batter. This win bumped her record up to 7-3 on the season.
For game two, the Beavers once again scored in the first as they put up a two-spot with a little help from the Lions who committed three errors in the inning. Bluffton then tacked on one run in the third and fourth innings. A run-scoring single by Clark and an RBI ground ball by Price put the Beavers up 4-1.
Once again though, Bluffton headed into the bottom half of the fifth and got the job done, this time scoring five runs. Nikitas knocked in Clark for the first run while moving Robertston over to third. Manahan got the job done, pulling off a suicide squeeze to plate Robertson and move pinch runner Jo Bondra (Highland Heights/Mayfield) to second. After a single and a walk, the bases were loaded when an illegal pitch pushed Bondra home to make it 7-1. Two batters later, Osborne came through in the clutch with a game-ending double to left center scoring two runs to give the Beavers the mercy-rule victory.
Megan Patton (Waynesfield/Perry) improved to 4-4 as she tossed four superb innings for the Beavers, giving up one unearned run on one hit with two walks and three punch outs. Kayla Owens (Cincinnati/McAuley) pitched a scoreless fifth and earned her second save of the season.
Clark paced the Bluffton offense with two hits, as she finished 4-of-6 for the day. Wade went 2-of-3 as well while scoring a run. Osborne and Nikitas each drove in two runs while Price led with two scores. Nikitas finished with five RBI for the day.
The Beavers return to the diamond next Tuesday, April 3, when they travel to Manchester College. The first game is slated for 3:30 p.m. in North Manchester, Indiana.