ALMA, Mich. - The Heidelberg University softball team scored early and often in their NCAA Regional game against Benedictine on Saturday, run-ruling the Eagles 8-0 in five innings. The Student Princes scored five in the first inning and never looked back, cruising their way to Sunday's regional championship round.
Heidelberg (30-11) advances to the championship round on Sunday at noon, where they will face the survivor of Saturday's remaining games.
The Student Princes made their mark early. After a walk issued to Taylor Hicks and a sacrifice bunt by Marissa Smego to advance Hicks to second, HU drew three consecutive walks to score the first run of the game. Three consecutive singles by Randi Kelsey, Kyleah Brey, and Haylee Patel drove in three more runs to make it a 4-0 lead. Lisa Simmons would then reach on a fielder's choice, but the throw home by Benedictine was too late as the Berg scored their fifth run of the inning. When it was all said and done, Heidelberg batted around in the frame, scoring five runs on three hits with four walks.
After Benedictine failed to score in the bottom of the first, HU tacked on one more in the second when back-to-back doubles by Mikaela Mitsch and Kayla Zachrich to open the inning gave the Berg a 6-0 advantage.
In the top of the fourth, HU added on to their lead yet again when a single up the middle by Patel made it a 7-0 score. With two out, Heidelberg tacked on one more thanks to a Benedictine error to make it an 8-0 lead in favor of the Berg.
Starting pitcher Erin Chapman did not allow a Benedictine runner to reach scoring position until the fourth inning, but she was able to strand runners at the corners to end the inning, keeping the Eagles scoreless.
Heidelberg placed runners on the corners with no out in the fifth, but Benedictine was able to work out of the jam with the Berg still leading by eight.
Those eight runs would be all HU would need, as Chapman kept the Eagles off the board in the fifth to complete the run-rule victory in five innings.
Chapman (15-5) finished the afternoon giving up just three hits in five innings with no runs to earn the victory in the circle.
Patel led the Berg offense on the day with two runs driven in while Mitsch reached base in all four of her plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a double, single, and two walks.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
Heidelberg continues their tear in NCAA Regional action, improving to a perfect 5-0 in school history.
Head coach Betsy Hada on the win: "We wanted to win each inning and get out and set the tone in inning one when we were up to bat, so I think we did a great job of doing that."
Junior Erin Chapman on her performance in the circle: "Train once again called an amazing game and I know to trust my stuff, trust her, and trust the girls behind me."
Senior Marissa Smego on the five-run first inning: "Our gameplan is always to jump on them early and win every inning. People were being patient at the plate and doing whatever the team needed at that time. Five runs was huge and I think that set the tone for the rest of the game."
Hada on how she feels headed towards Sunday's championship round: "I feel very good, like I do every day with these girls. They work really hard and they never give up, so we have business to take care of tomorrow."
The Student Princes will play on Sunday at noon in the regional championship round. HU, being the lone unbeaten team at the regional, will need just one win to advance to the Super Regional while whoever they face will have to win twice to advance.