UPLAND, Ind. – The third-seeded Foresters kept their hopes alive for a bid to the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championships with a 7-5 win over eighth-seeded Marian University Thursday morning at the Crossroads League tournament hosted by Taylor University.
The winner of the conference tournament will receive the league’s second automatic bid to the national tournament slated for May 12-14. Taylor University clinched the first automatic bid as the regular season champions.
Less than 24 hours after her first win in the tourney, Emily Puterbaugh (9-7) got back in the circle to notch the complete-game victory over the Knights. She surrendered eight hits, five runs and four walks while striking out three.
She had plenty of support from her teammates as the Foresters slugged out 16 hits in their 32 appearances at the plate with Annie Weaver and Natalie McGuire leading the way. Both underclassmen finished with three hits and an RBI. Lindsey Shellabarger, Katie Knous and Cristin Carter also pounded out multiple hits, two apiece, with Shellabarger and Carter each driving in a run.
HU jumped out to a 3-1 lead through the first three innings and it proved to be the difference in the contest as both teams played even the rest of the way.
Weaver was the first to touch home on a missed catch in the top of the third. Bess Fiechter and Carter each drove in a run later that inning to get HU off to a good start. The Knights would get one back in their half of the frame on a solo shot by Eleni Prewitt for a 3-1 contest.
The fifth was a replica of the third in that Huntington plated three runs to Marian’s one. Knous tripled in a run and eventually came around to score on a passed ball. Weaver knocked in HU’s third run of the frame on an infield single before Allie Foley drove in a run for the Knights.
With one swing of the bat, a three-run blast by Chelsey Hartman in the sixth, Marian made sure HU didn’t get too comfortable as Huntington watched their advantage dwindle to one at 6-5. But it didn’t seem to faze Coach Gower’s crew as they plated one more run, an RBI-double by McGuire, in the seventh and then held the Knights in check in their last at-bat to knock them out of the tourney.
The Foresters (28-20) are back in action at 5:00 p.m. today to face No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan University.