GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - It was more like a game of ping pong than softball at the 2014 NAIA National Championship Opening Round with fourth-ranked Olivet Nazarene University finally outlasting Huntington, 15-10, Monday afternoon at Davenport University’s Farmers Complex.
The Foresters’ ten runs proved to be the most runs the Tigers have given up all season. With this loss, HU (31-22) drops into the consolation bracket to face William Woods University (MO) at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday while top-seeded ONU (47-3-1) squares off against the host Panthers at 11:00 a.m.
As has been the case all season, Huntington may be down but never out. Coach Gower and crew trailed on two different occasions through the first five innings and rallied to take the lead both times to prove that no lead is ever safe against the gritty Foresters.
Most impressive was Huntington’s six-run performance in the third to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 7-2 advantage. HU sent 11 batters to the plate for five hits and chased starting pitcher Virginia McAndrews out of the circle after she gave up three consecutive hits which included a Katie Depew RBI-single.
Bess Fiechter kept things rolling by doubling in two more runs to give her team a 4-2 advantage. A walk and sacrifice bunt later, Emily O’Leary pounded out an RBI-single. Cristin Carter drove in HU’s sixth run on a fielder’s choice before a sacrifice bunt squeeze by Natalie McGuire rounded out the innings’ scoring.
Fast forward to the fifth inning where the wheels seemed to come off for Huntington as they surrendered five hits and committed two errors to which the Tigers took full advantage. ONU scored seven runs to recapture the lead at 9-7 but a resilient Forester squad fired right back to plate three runs and steal the lead back at 10-9.
After a Carter single and McGuire walk, Kaitlyn Troyer highlighted the bottom half of the frame by ripping her second double of the contest to pull her team within one at 9-8. Annie Weaver evened things up with a sacrifice fly and then DePew put her team back on top with a run-scoring base poke to right center.
Unfortunately, the Tigers still had plenty of offensive firepower as they scored four runs in their next at-bats and added two insurance runs in the seventh to grow the lead to five. This time around, the Foresters had no answer as they quietly bowed out for the loss.
Four Foresters took the mound with Marcie McDougle taking the loss after relieving starting pitcher Emily Puterbaugh. McDougle gave up five hits and four runs to drop to 5-6 on the season.
DePew went 3-for-4 at the plate, logged two RBI and scored a run to pace HU offensively while Carter, Troyer and Weaver each pounded out two hits and drove in a run.