Beavers take two on opening day
Bluffton cruises to wins over Illinois and Beloit on opening day
March 3, 2013
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The Bluffton University softball team blew open the doors on its 2013 season with an 8-0 mercy-run victory over Illinois College and a 9-4 win over Beloit College on Sunday, March 3, at the Rebel Spring Games. Bluffton's offense hit .423 for the day and pounded three dingers in the five-inning pasting of the Illinois Lady Blues.
The Beavers gave game one starter Chloe Shell (Covington) all the support she would need in the bottom of inning one when junior Shelby Erford (Paulding) drove a triple down the left field line and sophomore Emily Kolezynski (Strongsville) picked her up with a ground ball to second base. Standout sophomore Katie Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) parked a 1-0 offering from Alese Speckhart in the cheap seats down the left field line after it hit the top of the fence for a quick 2-0 lead.
Following two scoreless frames, some small ball added up to five runs thanks to a bunt single by senior Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) that scored Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill.) and back-to-back infield hits from Chelsea Weitz (Dayton/Carroll) and Erford. Sophomore Brittany Baker (Springboro) made Coach Bruder look genius when her pinch hit grand slam with the count full put the Beavers up 7-0 after four frames.
Muffo, who finished her first day of collegiate softball 5-of-7 (.714) with a pair of two-baggers, sent the Beaver fans into pandemonium with a game-ending bomb in the bottom of the fifth. Her home run to left field made the score 8-0 as Bluffton opened 2013 with a walk-off mercy-rule victory.
Shell (1-0) was solid in the circle, holding Illinois scoreless while facing just 17 batters. She struck out two, walked two and allowed just two hits, only one of which left the infield.
Hitting for the first time from the left side of the plate, Erford was a perfect 3-of-3 with two runs scored in game one. Muffo was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Baker finished with the hit of the day, a fourth-inning grand slam that propelled Bluffton to victory. Clark was 2-of-2 with a homer as well.
The offense continued its hit parade in game two when the Beavers put up three runs in each of the first two innings while building a 6-0 advantage over Beloit College. Wade, Muffo and Baker all doubled for Bluffton in the first frame for a quick 3-0 lead. An inning later, Clark plated Ashley Knippen (Wapakoneta) and Shelby Erford with two down before Jessica Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) made the score 6-0 with a double to the gap in right center.
Muffo's fourth-inning double down the right field line scored Clark and Erford for an 8-0 lead and put Bluffton in position for another quick afternoon. However, Beloit scored the first runs off the Beavers in the home half following a pair of extra base hits and a wild pitch, making the score 8-2.
The Buccaneers had visions of making a game of it when the home team tacked on two runs in the fifth, but Kolezynski set Beloit down in order in the sixth and seventh while Erford scored one more time to cap a 9-4 victory in contest two of the day and season.
Muffo led the Bluffton bats with three hits and four RBI. She cracked two doubles, giving her three extra base hits for the day. Kuzara, Wade and Erford, who went 5-of-6 on Sunday, all added two safeties as Bluffton rapped out 11 hits in the victory.
Kolezynski tossed 3.1 innings of relief for the win, allowing two runs on one hit with a walk. Kayla Owens (Cincinnati/McAuley) fanned six but also issued six free passes while giving up two runs on two hits in 3.2 innings of work.
Bluffton will look to continue its hot streak on Monday, March 4, when the Beavers take on Concordia University-Chicago at 1 p.m. and Geneva at 5 p.m. Both games are slated for field 5 at the Osceola Complex.