TIFFIN – The Frann's Field magic returned to Peaceful Valley on a blustery Sunday afternoon as the Heidelberg University softball team won a pair of one-run games over Muskingum University. The Student Princes rallied for a 9-8 win in eight innings in the first game and held on for an 8-7 win in the nightcap. The sweep was the first over the Muskies in Heidelberg softball history.
The victories pushed Heidelberg to 14-4, 3-1 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Muskies fell to 9-11 overall, 1-3 in the conference.
THE KEY STATS: Kyleah Brey had a team-high four hits, including a double, to go along with a pair of RBI and runs ... Freshman Abbey McKee added three hits and three RBI. Her double in the first game hit near the top of the left field fence ... Four Student Princes -- Lisa Simmons, Mikaela Mitsch, Haylee Patel and Marissa Smego – each added two hits ... Paige Atterholt logged 10.1 innings in the circle, striking out five.
GAME ONE – HEIDELBERG 9 MUSKINGUM 8 (8 Innings): After Muskingum scored a run in the top of the 8th, Heidelberg rallied in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Lisa Simmons singled to left. She scored from first on a double to right center off the bat of Haylee Patel, who moved to third on the throw. With two outs, Marissa Smego hit a grounder to short, which was bobbled by Kelly Martin. After she gathered the ball, her throw to first was not in time, according to the umpire. Patel crossed the plate for the walk-off winner.
Heidelberg needed a bit of Frann's Field magic to get the game into extras. Muskingum led 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Abbey McKee singled home Taylor Hicks. Mikaela Mitsch followed with a double to the wall in right center. With a full count, Kayla Zachrich laced a game-tying double to right, plating pinch runners Renee Lovett and Randi Kelsey.
The Student Princes held a 4-2 lead through the first four innings, thanks to a four-run first. The outburst was highlighted by a McKee double off the wall in left and a Kyleah Brey two-run double to right center.
Muskingum rallied for four in the top of the fifth and one in the seventh.
Cori Long (6-1) picked up the win in relief of starter Paige Atterholt. Atterholt fanned five in seven innings. Five of the seven runs she allowed were earned.
GAME TWO – HEIDELBERG 8 MUSKINGUM 7: Heidelberg had to play catch-up in the second game after the Muskies scored a pair off of starter Abbie Finnell in the second. In the bottom of the inning, Patel singled home Zachrich. Later, Lovett contributed an RBI single to right, plating Brey. McKee and Mitsch drew back-to-back bases loaded walks to force in two more.
Up by a pair, Heidelberg added three in the third. With two outs and runners on second and third, Hicks hit a tapper to third. Fallon Gawry opted to try to toss the ball to the plate, but Brey slid in ahead of the throw. Smego followed with a two-run single to left.
Long, who relieved Finnell to start the third, left the game in the fourth after allowing four runs on four hits. Atterholt returned to the circle and gave up a double before recording the third out.
Leading 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth, the Tricolor plated an important insurance run. With two outs and runners on the corner, Hicks scampered home on a wild pitch.
Muskingum's Hannah Reese hit a solo homer in the sixth, cutting the Berg lead down to 8-7.
In the seventh, a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt put the tying run in scoring position for the Muskies. Atterholt responded by getting a pop out and a groundout to first to end the game. She worked 3.1 innings to pick up her third win of the season.
"It takes a mentally tough pitcher to start game one and come back in to finish game two," said Hada. "Paige has developed in to such a key part of our success."
EXTRA BASES: Frann's Field has hosted four games in its existence – all of which have been decided by one run ... The second game was the first seven inning game at the new complex ... Eight different HU players had at least one RBI ... With the wind blowing out, the teams combined for 16 doubles ... At 14-4, Heidelberg is off to its best start since going 15-3 in 2011.
THE QUOTE: "We are winning games because everyone on the team 'holds the rope," said Hada. "If one person struggles, the next girl will pick her up and make the big play. It hasn't been the same people to step up in big situations."
ON DECK: The Student Princes will close out the month of March with an OAC doubleheader at Baldwin Wallace (7-9, 0-2). The Yellow Jackets travel to Marietta on Monday to play the games originally slated for Saturday. First pitch in Berea will be at 3 p.m.