DEFIANCE – The Heidelberg University softball team split their first two games in Ohio for the 2014-15 season, taking the opener by run-rule over Defiance College before falling in extra-innings in game two. The Student Princes were cold early, but made a huge rally in the middle of the game to sink the Yellow Jackets in the first game, while a bad-luck double play and a walk-off by Defiance sunk HU in the second game.
In the opener, Heidelberg (9-3) was cold offensively, reflecting the weather compared to what they were used to this past week in Florida. It took until the fourth inning for the Student Princes' bats to come alive, as they trailed 5-0 entering the top of the 4th.
Three straight singles, off the bats of Marissa Smego, Abbey McKee and Mikaela Mitsch opened up the inning, setting up a bases-loaded situation with no outs. Kayla Zachrich then came through by putting the ball in play and reaching on an error, scoring Kelsey and Smego for the first two runs of the game for the Berg. A walk to Christine Bowling scored the third run of the inning, later followed by another run due to a Yellow Jacket error, cutting the deficit to just one. Smego then came through with a two-out RBI single to tie the game.
Leading off the top of the 5th with the game tied, Mitsch crushed a solo home run to give Heidelberg their first lead of the game. Later in the inning, Bowling drove in a run on a groundout, scoring Zachrich, who tripled after Mitsch's homer.
The top of the 6th was where the offense exploded for the Berg, as they scored six runs to take a commanding lead. Four extra-base hits, highlighted with a two-run home run by McKee gave the Student Princes the opportunity for the run-rule with a 13-5 lead headed to the bottom of the 6th.
Cori Long, who came on in relief of starter Paige Atterholt in the third, promptly set down the Defiance batters in order, giving the Berg a victory. Long finished the game in the circle throwing 3.2 innings, giving up just one hit and no walks while striking out one to earn the victory.
Game two was a bit of a quicker start for Heidelberg, as they took an early two-run lead thanks to a two-run double by Smego in the top of the second.
Defiance answered that with one run in the bottom of the frame, as that 2-1 lead for the Berg held until the 5th. In the top of the inning, Mitsch drilled a home run with one out to extend the lead to 3-1.
Once again the Yellow Jackets were able to answer with one run, cutting the Heidelberg lead to just one again entering the sixth inning.
Holding that slim one-run lead in the top of the seventh, the Student Princes were able to tack on one more to their advantage when Renee Lovett hit a clutch two-out single to drive in Kyleah Brey, making the score 4-2 in favor of Heidelberg headed to the bottom of the seventh.
After allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach base on a single and a double, Heidelberg starter Erin Chapman recorded a foul out to get the first out of the inning. The next batter was able to square up a pitch, however, driving in a pair to tie up the game and sending it to extra-innings.
In the top of the 8th, Heidelberg was able to get two on with nobody out after Taylor Hicks reached on an error. Smego was next at the plate, and she drilled a ball right at first base, ending up in a double play to give Defiance a break. The Student Princes were unable to plate a run in the top, and the Yellow Jackets took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring to walk-off in the bottom due to an error by the Berg.
Smego led the Heidelberg offense with four hits and five RBI on the day while Mitsch drilled a homer in each of the two games. Bowling picked up three hits on the day, two of which were doubles.
The Heidelberg softball team will open up Ohio Athletic Conference action on Saturday, March 21st, when they travel to Ada for a doubleheader with Ohio Northern. The first of those two games is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.