CLERMONT, Fla. - Despite dropping a pair of tight games on their final day, Heidelberg University softball will return to the Buckeye State with a 6-4 record.
The Student Princes dropped their first two before embarking on a six-game win streak. That stretch included four wins in less than 18 hours.
After falling to Renssaeler Polytechnic 7-2 and to Coe 10-2, Heidelberg took down MacMurray 8-0 and Finlandia 3-1.
Following an off day, Heidelberg beat Suffolk 6-1 and Farmingdale State 4-3. Both games were delayed because earlier games ran over their allotted time. The game against Farmingdale State ended around 1 a.m.
Against Suffolk, Mikaela Mitsch (McHenry, IL) led the Student Prince offense. She went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. Starter Paige Atterholt (DeGraff/Riverside) threw three innings and allowed one run on three hits to pick up the win.
Later that evening, Heidelberg walked off with a win against Farmingdale State. Both teams traded a run in the first before Heidelberg scored twice in the third. Jami Wagner (Alvada/New Riegel) led off the inning with an inside-the-park home run. One batter later, Kayla Zachrich (Defiance/Ayersville) hit a triple. She scored on an RBI single by Mitsch.
With the score tied in the bottom of the seventh, Mitsch led off with a single, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Marissa Smego (Parma/Trinity). Bri Sinden (New Philadelphia) hit a walk-off triple to score Smego.
Bright and early the next morning, the Student Princes, working on four hours of sleep, laced up their cleats and defeated Monmouth 7-5 in eight innings. Heidelberg sprinted out to a 5-0 lead with three in the first and two in the third. 'Berg starter Nicola Gabriele (Boardman) ran into trouble in the fifth and allowed Monmouth to tie the game.
After a scoreless sixth, Monmouth threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Two one-out singles and an error loaded the bases. Second baseman Lisa Simmons (Westerville/North) fielded a ground ball and got the force out at home for the second out. Senior Ali Sayre (Sylvania/Northview) got the next batter to foul out to end the threat.
With international softball tie breaking rules in place, Heidelberg took the lead in the eighth. Simmons was placed on second and advanced to third on an error by the right fielder after Zachrich lined out. After Mitsch struck out, Smego singled home Simmons. Sinden followed with an RBI double. Sayre retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to preserve the win.
Sayre worked a complete game in the next contest, a 4-3 win over Lesley. Both teams scored three runs in the first inning. Mitsch and Sinden, both freshmen, hit RBI doubles in the inning.
The game remained 3-3 until Heidelberg came to bat in the bottom of the seventh. Zachrich and Mitsch hit one-out singles. Sinden followed with a walk-off single, her second game-winner in as many days.
On Thursday, Heidelberg's late-inning magic ran out.
Against Denison, Heidelberg scored a run in the first, but could not hang on late. The Big Red scored a run in the fourth to tie the game and two in the fifth. Gabriele worked four innings and only allowed three hits. Unfortunately, two of the hits were solo home runs. Trailing by a pair in the seventh, Heidelberg loaded the bases with one out, but Denison's Rebecca Dyer recorded back-to-back strikeouts to seal the 3-1 Big Red victory.
Drama ensued in the final game of the trip, a 5-4 loss to the University of Texas at Dallas. The Comets took a 4-0 lead with three in the second and one in the fifth. In the sixth, Andi Lowe (Westerville/Central) tied the game with a grand slam, her first home run of the season. The Student Princes thought they had taken the lead in the seventh when Mitsch connected on a two-run homer. After deliberating, the umpires ruled that Mitsch, who was removed for a pinch runner in the sixth, never officially re-entered the game. She was declared out. The Comets scored in the bottom half of the inning to pick up the win.
For the season, Mitsch, a catcher, leads the Heidelberg offense. She is hitting .567 with 11 RBIs and two home runs. Wagner is hitting .444 and has stolen 11 bases. She sits just 13 stolen bases shy of breaking the Heidelberg career record of 61, set by Seka Lewis in 2003.
On the mound, Sayre has picked up three wins and has an ERA of 3.62. Gabriele is 1-1 with an ERA of 2.45. Atterholt has thrown just eight innings, but has an ERA of 0.88 and a 2-0 record.
The softball team returns to action on March 20 at Defiance.