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Foresters go 4-6 over spring break

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TUCSON, Ariz. – The #RV HU softball team (5-6-1, 0-2) spent the majority of their spring break in Arizona playing in the Tucson Invitational where they went 4-4 before wrapping up the week with a pair of conference losses to No. 7 Marian University.

Freshman hurler Camille Furrow has had little time to adjust to the college game but the rookie hasn’t seemed fazed as she logged a 3-1 record in the Grand Canyon state. She guided the Foresters to a 5-4 win over Mayville State University on opening day by giving up 12 hits and four runs while striking out three.

HU relied on a balance offensive attack against the Comets with Audra Klopfenstein and Furrow each driving in a run in their first at bat to give their team an early 2-1 lead. Casey Lehman doubled in a pair of runs in the next frame to extend the lead to 4-1 before Mayville chiseled away at the deficit to finally knot things up at 4-4 heading into the sixth where Abby Keaffaber knocked in the game-winner with a single up the middle.

The Foresters notched a second win over the Comets on Tuesday, this time a 7-3 decision, with freshman Lairen Miller picking up her first collegiate win in the circle. She gave up 13 hits and three runs for the complete-game W.

Just like the first meeting with Mayville, HU jumped out to an early advantage with the first frame highlighting the contest as four different Foresters drove in a run for a 4-0 lead. Coach Gower’s crew tacked on two more runs in the second for a 6-0 tilt. The Comets would go on to outscore HU 3-1 the rest of the way but it was too little, too late.

Klopfenstein, Karley Blankenship and Marty Harris each hammered out two hits and an RBI to pace Huntington at the plate. Sabrina Bethel added a hit and two RBI while Lehman and Furrow posted run-scoring base pokes.

The Foresters also enjoyed a 6-5 win over Robert Morris University (IL) on Monday in a game that extended to eight frames. Playing the international tie breaker rule, Natalie McGuire wrapped up the win with a walk-off single to deep right-center. The Eagles also scored in the eighth but McGuire’s heroics came on the heels of a Keaffaber RBI-single two batters prior to make for the exciting finish.  

HU’s offense prior to the eighth was contained in the second and the fifth frames. Keaffaber and Joelle Beals registered back-to-back run-scoring singles in the second to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 advantage. The Foresters had to come back again in the fifth as they found themselves down 3-2. This time it was Klopfenstein who found a gap in center to drive in two runs for a reclaimed lead of 4-3.

RMU answered in the sixth to force the stalemate that sent the game to extra innings. Furrow collected the win, giving up 12 hits and four runs, two of which were earned, while striking out seven.

Huntington’s final win in Arizona came on Wednesday against #RV Valley City State University. Furrow was again the winning pitcher as she went the distance to five up nine hits and three runs while fanning three in the 5-3 victory.

Not only did Furrow get the job done on the mound, she also got the job done at the plate with a two-run dinger in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the seventh to account for three of HU’s runs. It was a pivotal seventh as the Foresters headed into the frame in a 3-3 tie. Furrow’s sacrifice fly proved to be an insurance run as it was Lehman who came up with the game-winner, an RBI-double two batters earlier.

Huntington’s first run came at the stick of Klopfenstein when she singled in McGuire who opened the third by drawing a walk. HU finished with six hits to VCSU’s nine.

Unfortunately, the Foresters didn’t fare as well against the Vikings in their first matchup on Monday as they came up on the short end of a 12-8 decision.

It was a slugfest with Valley City outhitting the Foresters 19-9 but the real discrepancy came by way of HU’s five errors that resulted in seven unearned runs.  

The bottom of the sixth was Huntington’s demise as the Foresters enjoyed a 7-6 lead up to that point. The wheels came off as they gave up eight hits and committed three errors to the tune of six runs to find themselves in an unrecoverable hole.

Despite the disappointing loss, freshman Ashley Brown put together her own highlight reel offensively. The New Castle native cranked two out of the park, both two-run blasts, in addition logging an RBI-single in between her dingers.

Miller took the loss for HU giving up five hits and 11 runs, only four of which were earned, in 5.2 innings on the mound.

Two of Huntington’s other losses came against Purdue Northwest. The first, a 9-3 decision on Sunday, was another contest where costly errors plagued the Foresters as the Pride plated five unearned runs on three HU blunders.

After two scoreless frames, both teams scored in the third, HU on a Lehman sacrifice fly. The Pride showed no signs of slowing down after that as they scored at least once each inning on the way to the lopsided victory.

HU’s final two runs came with one mighty swing of the bat by Blankenship in the sixth. The rookie left fielder sent one over the left field fence for her first collegiate four-bagger.

Miller was charged with loss on the mound. She tossed the first 4.2 innings and gave up eight hits, seven runs, three earned, and three walks while striking out two.

Huntington kept things close in their second meeting with Purdue Northwest on Wednesday but still came up short 8-7 in a contest that extended to nine innings.

For the second time while out West, the Foresters found themselves affected by the international tie breaker rule. With the scored deadlocked at 5-5 after seven, both teams scored once in the eighth to force a second tie breaker with the Pride getting the best of the setup to plate two runs to HU’s one in the ninth for the win.

Errors again played a significant role in Huntington’s loss as they committed three to give up three unearned runs.

Lehman paced HU at the plate with two hits and two RBI. Klopfenstein also registered a pair of base pokes while Furrow hammered out a hit and recorded an RBI.

The Foresters would just as soon forget their game against NCAA Division II University of Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday as the Golden Eagles had their way with HU to the tune of a 17-1 drubbing in a five-inning affair.

Furrow tossed the first three frames to take the loss for HU. Crookston collected 14 hits on the way to scoring at least two runs every inning which included a seven-run third. Huntington managed just three hits with Harris picking up an RBI-double in the fourth for Huntington’s only run of the evening.

The Foresters returned to the Midwest on Thursday in order to open up conference play with a road trip to #7 Marian University on Saturday where HU struggled to find their sticks on the way to two shutouts, 3-0, 7-0.

While HU struggled offensively, Furrow had a great showing on the mound while her teammates backed her up defensively to keep things interesting in game one. Furrow limited her hosts to just one run through the first four frames before giving up two more in the sixth to make for the 3-0 final.

When all the dust had settled, the Knights hammered out 12 hits to HU’s one, by Brown, in an errorless contest with Furrow taking the loss.

The nightcap started out similarly to the opener as Marian managed just one run through the first four frames before they exploded for six runs in the fifth to blow the game wide open for a 7-0 lead that stood.

Miller took the loss for the Foresters by giving up 11 hits and seven runs, one of which was unearned.

Klopfenstein and Blankenship each pounded out two hits to account for four of their team’s six hits in game two.

The Knights (13-1, 4-0) entered the afternoon ranked 7th nationally in runs per game with their 7.6 average. MU’s three runs in game one proved to be their second lowest offensive output of the season.

The Foresters are back at it on Monday when they head to Grace for a doubleheader with the Lancers at 3:00 p.m.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 254 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.