TUCSON, Ariz. - With only a handful of practices outside before packing up for spring break and heading to Arizona for the Tucson Invitational Games, the Forester softball team got off to a sluggish start by dropping three of their first four contests before reeling off six consecutive wins to wrap-up their week in the Southwest with a 7-3 record.
The Foresters opened up play on Monday against Dickinson State University (N.D.) and suffered a five-inning 11-1 loss. The Blue Hawks, ranked 27th in the preseason poll, hammered out 11 hits to HU’s six and took advantage of three Forester errors to run away with the game. In three innings of work, Abby Dilling gave up 11 runs on ten hits and two walks while striking out one in the losing effort. Karen Bollenbacher went 2-for-2 at the plate to pace Huntington while Amy Snider recorded a hit and drove in the Foresters’ lone run.
Up against 7th-ranked Lubbock Christian University later that day, the Foresters enjoyed an early 5-3 lead and then stayed within two runs of the Lady Chaps through the first six innings before the national powerhouse exploded for six runs in the seventh to cruise to a lopsided 15-7 victory. Lubbock got the best of senior Molly Long by hammering out 16 hits and drawing six walks for 15 runs against HU's ace.
The Foresters came out swinging in the first as they tallied four hits which included run-scoring doubles by Katie Knous and Cristin Carter and took advantage of a Chap throwing error and wild pitch to plate five runs to jump on top 5-3. LCU responded by logging a pair of runs in three of the next four innings to regain a 9-5 lead. The Foresters made one last surge by manufacturing two runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within two but they would get no closer. Katie Bowers finished with two hits and scored a run to lead the Huntington offense. Six other Foresters collected a hit to round out HU's bats.
Back on the mound on Tuesday to face McKendree University (Ill.), Long went the distance to hand the Bearcats a 3-1 loss. She gave up eight hits and no walks while fanning six. In a game the Foresters never trailed, Knous took control at the plate to log her first long ball of the season and finish with three hits and just as many RBI. Bowers also hammered out three hits in the Foresters' first win in the Corner State.
The nightcap was a slugfest in which Mayville State University came out on top 11-9 and outhit the Foresters 16-14. Marcie McDougle was charged with the loss. In 5.1 innings on the mound, she gave up ten hits and five runs while issuing one walk. Facing a 5-1 deficit after four innings, HU came raging back in the fifth to erupt for eight runs to take a comfortable 9-5 lead.
But the Comets made sure the Foresters weren't comfortable too long as they returned the favor in the sixth by creating their own scoring frenzy to push back on top 10-9 and then added an insurance run in the seventh to cap off their comeback. Offensively, Peyton Klinkhamer slugged out three hits, scored a run and drove in another. Bollenbacher and Shellabarger each went 2-for-3 while Amy Snider logged a two-run double.
Wednesday's matchup with Park University (Mo.) was a pitcher's duel in which Long went the distance to claim the 3-1 Forester win. She allowed just one run and four hits while striking out two. HU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after their first at-bats but Park's Jamie Tanno evened it up at 1-1 by knocking one out of the park in the top of the second. HU's final two scores came in the bottom of the third thanks to a little help from the Comets. Bowers scored on a throwing blunder and Knous scampered home on a wild pitch to put the Foresters on top 3-1. It proved to be the game's final score as Long held Park to just two hits over the final four innings to log her third win of the season. Knous and Bowers paced the Foresters at the plate with three and two hits respectively.
McDougle went the distance to pitch her first shutout of the season in HU's second game of the day to guide her team to a 3-0 win over Missouri Valley College. It was a spectacular outing on the mound as she gave up five hits and one walk while striking out seven. Klinkhamer finished with two hits and scored a run while Knous and Long each recorded a run-scoring hit to pace the Foresters' bats.
On Thursday the Foresters disposed of Mount Marty College (S.D.) 4-2 to improve to 5-4 on the week. Carter notched her first collegiate win on the mound. In 4.1 innings she gave up three hits and two runs. Abby Dilling took the hill for an inning before McDougle pitched the final 1.2 innings to pick up the save. After spotting the Lancers 2-0 through the first four innings, the Foresters heated up at the plate to explode for four runs and mount the heroic come-from-behind win. Bowers led the charge with two hits and an RBI while Snider scored a run and tallied a hit and two RBI.
The highlight of the week came later that day in HU's rematch with Lubbock Christian University. The Foresters brought LCU's 24 game win streak to a halt by knocking off the 7th-ranked Lady Chaps 3-1. It was another impressive outing for McDougle on the mound. In 4.1 innings of work she gave up one run on six hits and two walks for the win. Long came in for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the save.
The Chaps held on to a 1-0 lead through the first three innings but all that changed in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Brita Kuiper delivered a single through the right side to bring in two runs and put the Foresters up by one at 2-1. Amy Snider put the exclamation point on the game with an RBI-single in the seventh to round out the day's scoring. Bowers collected two hits and scored a run while Kuiper finished with a two-run single to pace HU at the plate.
The Foresters wrapped up the week with two more wins on Friday. In their first game, the Foresters outslugged Mount Marty College 9-7 to pick up their second win over the Lancers in as many days. With four different Foresters spending some time on the mound, it was Carter who logged the win. In two innings of work she gave up three runs on five hits and no walks while striking out three. Long worked the final two outs of the game to record the save. HU went 14-for-34 at the plate with Knous leading the way. She finished with two hits, scored two runs and drove in three more. Bowers, Kendra DeRoo and Brandi Gower also each picked up a pair of hits for the game.
HU’s final win in the desert came at the expense of Waldorf College (Iowa) to the tune of 11-2. Long hurled her third win of the week by giving up two runs on five hits and no walks while fanning four in five innings of work. The Foresters made the most at the plate by scoring 11 runs on 12 hits behind the bat of Klinkhamer who finished 3-for-4 and scored two runs. Bowers and Knous each collected two hits, scored two runs and drove in three more.
The Foresters (8-4) are back in action Thursday when they travel to Olivet College for a doubleheader beginning at 3:00 p.m.