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Friday, May 13, 2011

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Softball’s season comes to a close
on second day of NCAA Tournament

Like all good things, the record-setting season for the Muhlenberg softball team had to come to an end.

Unfortunately for the Mules, it happened in difficult fashion during the second game of the NCAA Tournament.

Western Connecticut scored in all but one inning, thanks in part to three home runs and an NCAA Tournament-record nine doubles, to eliminate Muhlenberg, 20-5,
Ashley Brewer and Genevieve Daly
Brewer hugs freshman Genevieve Daly after her final game in a Mule uniform.
and bring a season in which the Mules shattered program records for runs, doubles, home runs and extra base hits to a close.

After falling behind by nine runs after three-and-a-half innings, the Mules (25-17) finally got on the board, and back into the game, in the bottom of the fourth.

Junior Brittany Blohm led off the inning with a double to center. Senior Alyssa Epstein followed that up with a single, giving Muhlenberg runners on the corners with no outs.

Senior Jess Kasza walked to load the bases for classmate Alyssa Bruckner, who was making her first plate appearance of the season. After falling into a quick 0-2 hole, Bruckner worked a walk to bring Muhlenberg’s first run home.

The next batter, freshman Colleen O’Donnell grounded to third. The Colonials opted to go for the out at the plate, and the throw went wide and sailed to the backstop. Epstein and Kasza, who had rounded third and took off when she saw the ball get away, both scored.

After a groundout and a strikeout, senior Ashley Brewer delivered a single deep to the left center gap that brought home Bruckner and O’Donnell to cut the deficit to 9-5.

But Western Connecticut (28-13) would get out of the inning and continue its offensive surge, scoring two runs in the fifth and nine more in the sixth to end the game after six innings.
Shelby Smith
Junior Shelby Smith made her first career postseason start against the Colonials.

Blohm and Brewer both finished with a pair of hits, with Brewer moving into second place on the Centennial Conference single-season RBI list with 51. She is just the third player in conference history to reach the 50-RBI plateau in a season.

Brewer, who singled in her final at-bat, left her mark, and name, all over the Mule record book. She closed her career as Muhlenberg's leader in single-season and career RBI (93) as well as single-season (7) and career (13) home runs and total bases in a season (93). Kasza, meanwhile, ranks fourth on the school’s career doubles list.

They teamed with Epstein and Bruckner to help the Mules grab two NCAA Tournament berths during their four years in Allentown. It is just the 10th senior class in school history to graduate with multiple NCAA trips.

And while all of the players, especially the seniors, tried to fight back tears as they hugged their teammates and posed for one final round of pictures, Epstein said not even the sour ending could put a damper on what she said has been a memorable Mule career.

“This is definitely hard,” Epstein said. “But I’ve just happy that I’ve been able to be a part of this team; they’re such a great group of girls. Our goal was to play in the conference tournament, and we went beyond that. I couldn’t have asked for anything more for my senior season and my career.”
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