Bluffton ends season at HCAC tourney
Bluffton falls to Anderson and Manchester on day one of HCAC tourney
May 3, 2013
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - The Bluffton University softball team was unable to make it out of day one at the Heartland Conference tournament on Friday, May 3, 2013. After dropping a 3-0 decision to Anderson in the tourney lidlifter, host Manchester University took advantage of three Bluffton errors to knock the Beavers out of the tournament with a 10-6 victory in game two.
Anderson freshman Sami Frazier dominated the Beavers hitters from start to finish, limiting Bluffton to two paltry hits and none through the first four innings. With Bluffton sophomore Chloe Shell (Covington) also working her magic in the circle, the game was scoreless midway through the fourth frame.
A hit batter and a fielder's choice put two Anderson runners on to open the bottom of the fourth. Following a forceout at second and a stolen base by Megan Ream, Katy Ogden came up big with a a two-run double to the gap in right center. 2012 HCAC Most Valuable Player Natalie Moorhouse made it 3-0 with her infield single and that was all Frazier needed and more.
Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill.) and senior Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) had Bluffton's only hits in the tournament opener. Chloe Shell had a solid outing for the Beavers, allowing three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings of work. She struck out one and walked two while falling to 8-9 on the season.
The Beavers worked around two walks and a Kayla Yates single in the top of the first inning of the loser's bracket game, keeping host Manchester off the scoreboard thanks to an inning-ending pickoff at third base.
Singles by Emily Kolezynski (Strongsville) and Katie Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) sandwiched around an Ashley Knippen (Wapakoneta) sacrifice bunt put runners on the corners for fellow sophomore Jessica Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) who delivered with a three-run bomb to left center for a 3-0 lead in the home half of the first.
Manchester had an answer two innings later when freshman Kaile Niezgodski launched a three-run homer for a 4-3 lead in the third. The Bluffton defense went south in the fifth as Manchester plated five unearned tallies for a commanding 9-3 lead.
Bluffton drew four walks in the fifth but managed just one run on a sacrifice fly by Ashley Knippen. Niezgodski went yard again in the top of the sixth to make the score 10-4.
The Beavers loaded up the bases in the home half and pulled within 10-6 following back-to-back illegal pitches, but Manchester ace Maureen Lund got out of the jam and she finished Bluffton off in the seventh, allowing just a one-out walk to Muffo as the Spartans lived to see another day on their home field. They will face Franklin College in a loser go home game at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning with the winner earning the right to battle 2012 champion Anderson University.
Kuzara went 2-of-3 and she had the big hit for Bluffton, a three-run dinger in the first inning. Kayla Owens took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in just 2.2 innings of work. She walked two while ending the season with a 7-7 mark in the circle.
The Beavers will say goodbye to senior standout Shelby Wade when she graduates from Bluffton University on Sunday. Wade wrapped up a distinguished career with her fourth straight trip to the Heartland Conference tournament.