SB slides into OAC play with sweep

(Mason Hainey / Berg Athletics)
(Mason Hainey / Berg Athletics)

WILMINGTON -- The Heidelberg University softball team began conference play with a road sweep of Wilmington College on Saturday. The Student Princes nearly let large leads slip away in each contest, but held on for a 9-7 win in the opener and a 6-5 victory in the nightcap.

Heidelberg, winners of five straight, improved to 12-6 overall, 2-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Quakers fell to 2-12, 0-2 in conference.

KEY STATS

Erin Chapman -- 5 for 8, 3 2B, 2 RBI

Bailey Smith -- 4 for 8, 3 RBI

Haylee Patel -- 4 for 8, 2B

GAME ONE: Heidelberg 9 Wilmington 7

The Student Princes jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Renee Lovett led of the game reaching on an error, and moved to second on a walk issued to Taylor Hicks. After Wilmington retired the next two hitters, Smith sent a line drive up the middle to plate Lovett.

HU tacked on a second run in the third, courtesy of a bloop single by Smith.

The Quakers tied the score in the bottom of the fourth inning. A single and a walk put runners at first and second with no outs. A passed ball allowed the runners to scamper 60 feet. A foul of sacrifice fly by Becca Carpenter gave the Quakers their first run. A single brought home Sawyer Hooper for the second WC run of the inning.

The Berg bats broke loose in the six, scoring seven runs on seven hits. Kaitlyn Moore walked and Haylee Patel followed with a single. On the next pitch, senior Randi Kelsey drove a ball through the left side to plate Moore.

With two outs, Lovett roped a triple to the left centerfield wall to score Patel and Kelsey. Lovett scored on a single by Hicks.

Erin Chapman welcomed new WC pitcher Mariyah Burkhardt with a line drive up the middle to bring home Hicks. Casey Moore drilled a double off the fence to score Chapman, and later scored on another Smith base knock.

The Quakers responded in the bottom of the frame, scoring five runs of their own. Jillia Cook led off the inning with a homerun to left field to start the WC scoring.

Sophomore Morgan Daniels came in to relieve starting pitcher Chapman. Coming in with the bases loaded and no outs, Daniels got pinch hitter Chandler Fields to pop out to shortstop. The next batter launched a double to right center to bring home two runs for Wilmington and cut the HU lead to 9-5.

A groundout and a single cut the score to 9-7. Daniels induced a groundout to Cook to escape further damage.

Kaitlyn Moore retired the side to earn the save and give the Berg its first conference win.

GAME TWO: Heidelberg 6 Wilmington 5

Similar to game one, Heidelberg scratched across a run in the top of the first. With two outs, Chapman lined a double to right centerfield. She scored on a fielding error by the right fielder.

It remained a pitcher's duel until the top of the fifth. Kaitlin Keys belted her first collegiate homerun to left field for a 2-0 Berg lead. The junior, returning from injury, emotionally crossed home plate and was greeted by her elated teammates.

Keys was followed by Leah Bouillon's first collegiate hit -- a double in the left center gap. Bouillon scored on a Hicks single to push the HU lead to 3-0.

Chapman remained red hot at the plate with a double to left center and scored, once again, on a fielding error. The Berg led 5-0 after five innings.

Similar to game one, Wilmington put up a crooked number in the bottom of the frame. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out for leadoff hitter Savannah Hooper. A wild pitch brought in the Quakers' first run of the game.

Hooper walked to leave the bases loaded for Grace Yoder. Yoder singled to left field for a 5-2 HU lead. After an infield fly, Wilmington added two more with a single to left center to cut the deficit to one after five innings.

Bouillon gave the Berg a two-run cushion with her first collegiate RBI on a single to center. The freshman brought home Patel who reached on a double to left centerfield.

The Quakers tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third with one out, Hooper sent a ball that looked to drop in short left field. Bouillon made a beautiful over the shoulder catch to hold the runners. Kaitlyn Moore got the next hitter to fly out to center to get out of trouble. She retired the side in the seventh to complete the sweep for HU.

EXTRA BASES

For the third straight season, the softball team opened conference action with a sweep. The Student Princes have now won six straight over Wilmington.

As a team, Heidelberg had 23 hits combined in the two games. The 13 hits in game one were tied for the most this season. The other coming in a Mar. 4 victory over Houghton.

UP NEXT

The Student Princes return to southwest Ohio on Thursday when they travel to Mount St. Joseph. Game times are slated for 4 and 6 p.m.