Bluffton hurlers dominate MSOE and St. John Fisher
March 6, 2014
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Bluffton University softball team scored in just two innings on Thursday, March 6, but a pair of superlative pitching performances in the circle made those tallies stand up as the Beaver hurlers surrendered one lone hit in a pair of quick victories. Bluffton improved to 6-2 on the season following shutout wins over the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a St. John Fisher squad that was the No. 1 seed in the Ithaca Regional during the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament.
Freshman Emily Scupholm (Cuyahoga Falls/Our Lady of the Elms) drew her first collegiate start in game one against the Raiders. Following a first inning walk and a base hit to center by Kailey Smith in the third, Scupholm locked it in and set the visitors down three straight times before a seventh-inning error gave MSOE just its third base runner of the game. Sharp from the start, she got stronger as the contest wore on, needing just 96 pitches to complete her one-hit shutout.
Shelby Erford's (Paulding) bases loaded bunt single put the Beavers up 1-0 in the third before Jo Bondra (Highland Heights/Mayfield) cashed in with a two-run single down the right field line. Brittany Baker (Springboro) and Jess Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) crossed the dish and Scupholm did the rest as the Beavers moved to 5-2 with the 3-0 win on Thursday morning.
Not to be outdone by her freshman counterpart, Chloe Shell (Covington) went right after the Cardinals from St. John Fisher in game two. With the threat of storms on the horizon, Shell mowed Fisher down from the start. A Katie Musgrave (Doylestown/Chippewa) single in the third and a pair of walks were the only base runners before Bluffton exploded for three runs in the home half of the fourth.
Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill./New Athens) drew a leadoff walk and she moved up 60 feet when Kuzara singled to the shortstop. Brittany Baker unloaded on a Fisher offering, driving a two-run double to the wall in left center for a 2-0 lead.
Shell walked a batter in the fifth and Erford could not come up with Knaak's ball up the middle in the sixth, but the Cardinals were unable to crack the hit column as she wrapped up Bluffton's first no-hitter since Kayla Owens (Cincinnati/McAuley) tossed a mercy-rule no-no against Beloit in the 2011 Rebel Spring Games. As the Beavers headed out to their positions to start the seventh, lightning and rain sent the players and fans to an early shower. With six innings in the book, Bluffton claimed its fourth straight and sixth victory of the season on a stormy day in southwest Florida.
A 76-pitch outing for Shell included a strikeout, three walks and 11 groundouts as she upped her season mark to 3-2 following her first collegiate no-hitter. She fired 47 strikes while keeping St. John Fisher off balance all morning.
The Beavers wrap up their Fort Myers swing with two final contests at the Lee County Sports Complex on Friday, March 7. Bluffton opens with Salem State at 9 a.m. on Field 3.