Softball overcomes 8-run deficit

After another cancellation for the women’s softball team on March 18, due to weather, the Billikens were fully charged and ready to face their first conference opponent of the 2015 season.  And what better way to hit it off than against rival and last year’s A-10 regular season and tournament champion, Fordham.

SLU won the first of the three games of the series, 5-3, courtesy of sophomore shortstop Alex Nickel’s home run in the bottom of the seventh that broke a tight tie game.

The Bills dug themselves into a hole during the first inning, falling 3-0 with an unanswered offensive performance.  SLU came to life in the fourth inning with a game-changing two-out home run from freshman infielder Alyssa Tarquinio to make the score 3-3.

The game stalemated in the sixth inning.  At the top of the seventh, it was Fordham’s final chance to break the tie, but with junior Brianna Lore at the mound and an impenetrable Billiken defense, the Rams came away with nothing.

It took just a small spark to make a huge impact for the Billikens in the final inning.  Sophomore catcher Hailey Weavers singled to left field with one out, getting to first base. After a following strikeout, there was little hope for SLU to make anything of this inning.  But Weavers stole second from under Fordham’s nose and scraped her way to third on a throwing error.   

Now it came down to execution for the Bills, and Nickel showed her discipline, stepped up to the plate and blasted a home run to center field to bring Weavers and herself home for the well-earned victory.

The victory was not enough for the Billikens; Lore earned the title of SLU’s all-time winningest pitcher with 46 wins, a record that hadn’t been broken since 2003.

However, all good things come to an end, and being the victor can be the hardest position to hold.  Fordham leveled the playing field after the night matchup, downing the Bills, 8-5.

Little action came from the first two innings.  Then senior outfielder Lindsay Friedman started the show with a one-run homerun early in the third for the first run of the night. Freshman infielder Allie Macfarlane, Lore and Tarquinio  combined singles to get pinch runner freshman outfielder Josie Knesel to home plate for a 2-0 lead at the close of the third.

Fordham answered with a homer run in the fourth.  The Billikens had a quick fourth inning at the plate to keep it 2-1 heading into the fifth inning.

The Rams kept the ball rolling in the fifth with a huge triple late in the inning, taking the lead 3-2.  The dynamic duo of Macfarlane and Lore, who each doubled, tied the game up 3-3.

The Bills allowed two more runs in the sixth, and Fordham closed the door in the seventh with three runs, taking the lead 8-2.  SLU had a late surge with a two-run homer run by Elizabeth Everingham, but it just wasn’t enough for the Billikens.

It was anyone’s ball game going into Sunday with the series tied, 1-1.  SLU had the home field advantage, but Fordham had the momentum going in.   The Bills were down 8-0 in the top of the second inning.  Clearly, SLU was not having the idea of losing their conference opener to their rivals.

Fordham started at the plate in the top of the first and took the lead 1-0, but the real kicker came in the second.  Fordham earned a shocking seven runs off of five hits.  It looked bleak for the Bills, but they were just getting started.

Macfarlane and Weavers each had one home run in the third.

Macfarlane couldn’t be stopped as she rocked another over the fence to close the gap 8-5 .

Fordham regained some ground in the fifth with another two runs.  However, SLU had their eyes on the prize, and matched the Rams’ two runs with two of their own.  Mackenzie Peter notched a home run and Macfarlane again sent out a single, getting Knesel home, who pinch ran for Everingham.

With two more innings left in regulation, SLU needed all they had to make up for the three-run deficit, trailing the Rams 10-7.   Weavers earned the single run of the sixth inning with a homer run, sending SLU into the seventh, right at Fordham’s heels, 10-8.

The Billiken’s defense smoldered any chances the Rams had of widening the gap, setting the offense up for a promising chance to make it the comeback of the season.

Peter set the tone by reaching first off of a fielding error by the Rams.  Another error from the Rams-  hitting batter Everingham- put two runners on base.  Macfarlane grounded out, but successfully sacrificed to advance Peter and Everingham.  Lore converted the ideal situation with a single, and a helpful error from Fordham’s right fielder, to tie the game, 10-10.

Brittany Durant hopped on base to pinch-run for Lore, sitting on second with two outs.  Tarquinio singled to center field, bringing Durant home for the winning run.

The weekend series was the first of many tests for the softball squad and certainly started them off strong for the rest of the conference season.

On March 25, SLU hosted Dayton at home for a double-header, with both teams earning a win.

The Billikens struck first in game one, with 1-0 lead in the second inning off a misplayed ball. Dayton responded with an equalizer in the fourth and added on five unearned runs in the sixth, to make it 6-1.

SLU was able to cut the deficit to four runs in the bottom of the frame, once again off an error. A bunt by sophomore first baseman Emma Buckles and  a walk for Nickel put two runners on in the seventh, but the Billikens failed to capitalize, losing 6-2.

Game two had a much more favorable outcome for the Billikens. SLU took the lead in the third inning on a home run by Nickel, her fourth of the season. The Billikens loaded the bases in the fifth, but the threat ended there.

The Billikens took command in the sixth with four runs. Buckles started the rally with a two-out walk, followed by a single from Knesel. Nickel walked to load the bases, and a bean ball by the Flyers pitchers gave SLU a 2-0 lead.

Everingham followed with a bases-clearing double to the right-center for a 5-0 Billiken cushion, which they held until the end of the game.

SLU faces George Mason at home again this coming weekend with a double-header on March 28 at noon and 2 pm and a third game the following day at noon.

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