NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Taking a break from Crossroads action, the Forester softball team outlasted Manchester University 6-5 in the opener before dropping a 3-2 decision to the Spartans in the nightcap Wednesday afternoon at Spartan Field.
Game one was a ping pong affair as the contest featured three ties and two lead changes. HU methodically put points on the board, scoring a run in every inning except the second to eventually seal the win.
Huntington had a little breathing room after their fifth at-bat, enjoying a 4-2 lead but it was short-lived as MU put up three runs in their half of the frame to take their first and only lead of the contest.
Huntington answered back with an unearned run in the sixth to deadlock things at 5-5. Bess Fiechter set up what proved to be the game-winner in the top of the seventh, slugging out a triple before coming around to score on an Emily O’Leary RBI-ground out.
Lindsay Shellabarger’s run-scoring double plated HU’s first run while Annie Weaver and Cristin Carter each picked up RBI-singles in the fourth and fifth inning respectively. Weaver finished with a pair of hits as did Katie DePew and Fiechter.
After Marcie McDougle and Kaylin Yon combined for five innings on the mound, Lea Buckenmyer provided two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Buckenmyer finished with a strikeout and gave up two hits to notch her sixth win of the season.
Spartan pitcher MacKenzie Williams effectively brought the Foresters’ offensive to screeching halt through the first sixth innings of the nightcap before Fiechter finally blew MacKenzie’s potential shutout with a two-out two-run blast to left center in the top of the seventh to pull the visitors within one at 3-2. HU would get no closer as MacKenzie calmly worked a ground out to deny the Foresters any sort of heroic finish.
It was a pitcher’s duel through the first three innings until Manchester’s Kaile Niezgodski sent one over the left field fence in the bottom of the fourth to break the scoring drought. The Spartans added another run in the frame before logging the game-winner in the fifth.
HU managed only five hits with Fiechter and DePew pounding two hits apiece. Stephanie Osborn was the only other Forester to tally a hit, a double in the seventh.
Starting pitcher Ariel Sheets took the loss for Huntington, giving up three hits, two runs and two walks while striking out six through the first four innings.
With four games remaining, Huntington (23-16, 16-10) is tied with Bethel for 2nd in the league standings, four games behind top-seeded Taylor. They travel to Saint Francis tomorrow for a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader and then head to Spring Arbor on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. face-off with the Cougars.