CORTLAND, NY – Mikaela Mitsch left no doubt. On a 2-0 pitch with a tie game in the bottom of the seventh, the Heidelberg University junior blasted a two-run walk off home run onto the batting cages beyond the left field fence. The Heidelberg softball team defeated Neumann University, 6-4, to open the Cortland Regional.
The Student Princes (31-8) advance to face the winner of the Cortland – DeSales contest. Neumann will face the loser.
Mitsch's homer capped yet another come-from-behind victory for the Tricolor, who trailed 4-1 midway through the game.
"Today, we won the same way we have all season," said HU head coach Betsy Hada. "I have total faith that our girls will fight for seven complete innings."
The Knights pushed across a pair in the top of the first. Allie White greeted Paige Atterholt with a double to right center. After a walk and a foul fly ball put runners on the corners, Neumann scored on an errant throw on a stolen base attempt. Later, Danielle Grayson doubled to deep right, scoring another.
In the bottom of the second, Heidelberg chopped into the Neumann lead. Kayla Zachrich led off with a double to left center and moved to third on a single to left by Kyleah Brey. Haylee Patel followed with a shallow pop fly to right. Second baseman Melissa Rozumalski made the catch with her back to the infield, which allowed Zachrich the chance to sprint home.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Neumann with no outs. After getting a strikeout, Atterholt walked in a run. Rozumalski slapped an RBI single to right, bringing home another run. Atterholt limited the damage by getting a pop out and a weak fly out.
Heidelberg answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the 4th. After Abbey McKee singled, Zachrich hit a majestic home run to left field. Zachrich's homer, her third of the year, made the score 4-3 and gave Heidelberg momentum heading into the late innings.
"I've been down as of late and my teammates have picked me up," said Zachrich, who had three hits on the day. "I figured it was my time to step up."
The score remained tied until Mitsch ended the game in the seventh. Smego dumped a single into center to lead off, then departed for pinch runner Jordan Hux. Hux was able to trot around the bases thanks to the no-doubt-about-it home run by the Berg catcher.
"I just wanted to hit the ball," said Mitsch, one of five HU juniors on the team. "I tried to clear my head and put a good swing on it."
Paige Atterholt (16-3) picked up the complete game victory. She fanned four in seven innings, giving up eight hits and three walks. She stranded eight Neumann runners, including six in scoring position.
"Paige was tough today," said Hada. "Our team has total faith in her and, in turn, Paige has faith that girls will make the plays behind her ... and that showed today."
Neumann used three pitchers, with Haley Broomell (13-3) taking the loss. Heidelberg tallied 10 hits off of Knight pitching.