GOSHEN, Ind. - Fitting for a crisp autumn day, the Forester softball team raked over the Maple Leafs of Goshen College (8-13, 0-2) at Ingold Athletic Complex Friday afternoon for a pair of wins, 5-4, 5-2, to open up league play. With these wins, HU improves to 3-5 overall, 2-0 in CL action.
Both teams wasted little time in game one producing runs in a first inning that resembled more of a chess match than a softball game. HU scored twice in their opening at bat but the Maple Leafs countered right back with a pair of runs of their own.
The Foresters logged three straight singles with the third base poke, Paige Eichelberger’s single up the middle, driving in the game’s first run. Abby Keaffaber picked up the second RBI of the frame with a groundout to short for the early 2-0 lead but it vanished in the blink of an eye as Goshen smacked two out of the park in their half of the frame for the 2-2 deadlock.
Casey Lehman doubled in Marty Harris who had singled just prior to reclaim the lead at 3-2 in the second. The bats went quiet after that until the seventh when the chess match resumed with both teams scoring a pair of runs.
The frame had a similar feel for Gower and crew but this time it was a pair of back-to-back doubles, the first by Karley Blankenship and the second by Kennedy Krull, that resulted in the first run of the inning. A sacrifice fly by Lehman two batters later drove in Krull for a comfortable 5-2 advantage heading to the bottom of seventh and Goshen’s last shot at a heroic finish.
While GC claimed just one hit, they took advantage of two HU errors to touch home twice before Lairen Miller worked her eighth strike out of the afternoon for the final out to short-change the Maple Leafs’ comeback.
Miller went the distance to give up six hits, four runs and two walks while striking out eight for W.
Lehman finished with a hit and two RBI to pace Huntington offensively. Six other Foresters each logged a hit for a well-balanced attack.
In the nightcap, the Foresters peppered the Maple Leaf defense with six doubles at the bat of Joelle Beals, Ashley Brown (2), Eichelberger (2) and Sophia Beachy.
Down 2-0 after three innings, Gower’s crew received a much-needed boost in the top of the fourth. Eichelberger opened the frame with a single, Everhart reached on a walk after which Brown’s double to center drove in Eichelberger for the Foresters’ first run of the game. Krull then knotted things up at 2-2 with an RBI-ground out to second.
After solid defense and controlled pitching from both sides resulted in a fifth inning stalemate, the Foresters got their sticks going again in the top of the sixth with a one-out single from Blankenship.
Everhart followed with a successful sac bunt pushing Blankenship to second to setup another Brown RBI-double, this time down the left field line, to give the visitors their first lead of the contest.
The Maple Leafs went three and out in their half of the frame bringing up the top of the Forester lineup in the seventh.
Lehman popped out to second to start the inning but was quickly followed by a Beals’ infield single. Beals advanced to third on a Beachy ground out bringing up the heart of Huntington’s lineup with two outs setting the tone for a traditional Forester rally.
An error by the Goshen squad allowed Beals to score and Meghan Fretz to reach base. A screaming double from the bat of Eichelberger found space in right center allowing pinch runner Reed Jahnke to score. Eichelberger was caught stealing for the third out but a two-run seventh inning pushed the Forester lead to 5-2.
Down to their last at bat, the Maple Leafs had their work cut out for them but Fretz, who went the distance in the circle, made sure nothing transpired. After coaxing Courtney Crapser to fly out to left-center for out number one, Fretz struck out the next batter before the rookie hurler cleanly fielded a ground ball right back at her to seal the win.
Fretz gave up just five hits, two runs and three walks while striking out three for the complete-game win. Eichelberger claimed three of HU’s nine hits to go along with an RBI to pace her team at the plate. Brown finished with a pair of hits and RBI while Beals also collected two base pokes.
HU is back on the road tomorrow to face Bethel College at 1:00 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 274 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.