Huntington, Ind. - The Forester softball team (25-3) wrapped up conference play on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep over the Lancers of Grace College to improve to 13-3 in MCC play and lock-in at the No. 2 spot behind Bethel.
Things started off a little shaky for the Foresters in game one as Grace pieced together four hits in the top of third to take a 3-0 lead but HU turned up the heat on the mound and from the plate to mount an 11-3 come-from behind victory. After giving up five hits in the first three innings, Molly Long held the Lancers hitless over the final three innings to notch her fourteenth win of the season.
She was backed by solid hitting as HU hammered out 16 hits. After a quiet three innings in which only one Forester reached base, Katie Knous opened up the fourth with a single to short and eventually cruised home on Lindsay Shellabarger’s RBI-single. Two outs later, Megan Smith sent one into left field to drive in two more runs and Allison Greene capped off the inning’s scoring rampage with a double to left that pushed HU’s run total to four.
The fifth inning proved to be even more potent as the Foresters pounded out six hits and took advantage of a Lancer error to tally six more runs. Brita Kuiper logged HU’s first RBI of the inning with a single to left. With bases loaded, Smith found a hole in center field to drive another run and then Brandi Gower and Aubrey Garner each hammered out hits to drive in two runs apiece to extend HU’s lead to 10-3.
The Foresters ended the game on the slaughter rule with a run in the bottom of the six. Back-to-back singles from Katie Bowers and Taylor Amber put two on and Kuiper finished things up with a single to center that allowed Bowers to stroll in for the win as HU held an 11-3 edge after six innings.
Shellabarger was a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate to lead HU. Knous, Bowers, Kuiper, Smith and Gower finished with two hits apiece. Smith also scored two runs and drove in three more.
After taking a 4-2 lead after an inning of play, the Foresters seemed well on their way to a easy game-two win but the Lancers had other ideas as the game came down to the wire with the Foresters holding on for the 7-6 victory.
The Forester bats didn’t seem to miss a beat as Garner and Bowers singled with Knous drawing a base-on-balls in between to load the bases in HU’s first at-bats. Taylor proved why she hits clean-up as she belted one to center for a double to clear the bags turning HU’s two-run deficit into a one-run lead. She caught the Lancers’ sleeping on the next play to steal third and then came around to score on a wild throw to extend the lead to 4-2.
The Lancers got one back in the fourth but HU manufactured three runs in their half of the frame to maintain their lead. After doubling to center, Shellabarger advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and then tagged up on Garner’s sacrifice fly to plate HU’s fifth run of the night. Knous then logged her seventh homer of the season with a two-run shot into the tennis courts that proved to be the game-winner as HU surged ahead 7-3.
The Lancers refused to call it quits as they plated a run in the fifth and then added two more in the sixth to close within one but they would get no closer as the Foresters held them at bay for the win. Marcie McDougle picked up the win to remain undefeated on the mound at 5-0. In five innings of work, she gave up four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four. Abby Dilling pitched an inning of relief before Long worked a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the save.
Garner, Bowers and Shellabarger accounted for the bulk of HU’s offense, each picking up two hits. Amber and Knous finished with three and two RBI respectively.