Kline Pounds Pitching, Car to Lead Softball to Split with Washington

Saturday, March 31, 2012
 

Baseball Lacrosse

Warning to Muhlenberg softball spectators: Don’t park your car anywhere near the outfield fence at Cedarcreek Field.

Warning to Centennial Conference pitchers: Be careful when you pitch to Kelly Kline.

The Mule junior not only belted a three-run homer and scored twice to help Muhlenberg beat Washington, 10-3, in the first game of a rematch from last year's Centennial Conference playoffs, but she also hit a car that was parked a little too close to the action.

Kelsey Jones
Jones has struck out 21 batters and walked just seven in her three wins this season.

In the nightcap, the Mules rallied from an early deficit to tie the game in the sixth, but the Shorewomen scored in the seventh to earn the split with a 7-6 win.

Washington (13-10, 5-1) jumped ahead with a single run in the second inning of game one, but Kline gave Muhlenberg (8-10, 3-1) its first lead with one swing of the bat in the third. With one out and runners on first and second, she drilled a ball down the left-field line that hooked just foul and hit a car that may have been parked far enough away for most batters, but not the powerful Kline.

One pitch later, she made sure there would be no chance of the ball hooking foul when she lofted a hanging breaking ball high and deep over the centerfield fence to make it 3-1. She is just the second player in program history to hit at least five home runs in a season.

The Shorewomen tied the game with a two-run homer in the next inning, but the Mules responded by scoring seven runs over the next three frames.

Senior Brittany Blohm skied a double over the left fielder’s head to plate freshman Jaimie Klotz, and junior Jessica Costa and sophomore Erica Wenzel drove a pair of RBI doubles to the left-center and right-center gaps, respectively, to make it 6-3 after four.

That was more than enough for freshman Kelsey Jones, who struck out seven, including back-to-back batters to get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the fifth, to earn her third win of the season in less-than-desirable conditions.

Overnight rains turned the infield into mud. And wind chills dipped into the mid 30s, which Jones said made it difficult to stay warm between innings. But when she got in the circle, she said she did everything she could to block out the conditions and focus solely on the batter.

Devon Barber
Barber reached base in seven of her eight plate appearances, scoring two runs and driving in a pair.

“I’ve pitched in the cold before, but not like this. It was hard keeping my hands warm. The mud was sticking to my cleats, so I slipped a lot,” Jones said. “But I just tried to pitch through it and let the defense make the plays.”

While the defense, which did not commit an error in the opener, had her back, it was the Mule offense that made her job a lot easier.

Kline doubled to lead off the fifth and came around to score on a double steal. After taking second on the steal, junior Devon Barber advanced to third when Washington tried to cut Kline off at the plate. That allowed Klotz to bring her home with a sacrifice fly to deep right to all but put the game away.

“When the offense scores a lot of runs, I can kind of relax out there,” Jones said. “It’s always great to see use score a lot. It also helps to have Kelly [Kline] in the middle of our lineup; she’s such a great player. Whether she’s hitting home runs or getting on to start a rally, she can do it all.”

In game two, Washington scored three runs in the first, before Kline led off and scored in both the second and third to pull within one. The Shorewomen increased their lead to four with three runs in the sixth.

But the Mules did not go away quietly, rallying to tie the game in the sixth when, surprise, surprise, Kline drew a leadoff walk and came around to score. Then senior Shelby Smith drove the first pitch of her pinch-hit at-bat up the middle to bring home a pair of runs. Wenzel capped the scoring with a line-drive, run-scoring single to right to even the score.

After the Shorewomen scored with two outs in the seventh, the Mules loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half but could not push the tying run across.

Klotz collected two hits, drove in three runs and scored twice in the twin bill, and Wenzel added three hits and two RBI. Kline scored five times and went 3-for-4 on the day to lift her CC-leading batting average to .519. But it was her foul ball that got her teammates’ attention.

“I couldn’t see if she hit it, but then I heard it,” Jones said with a laugh. “I guess you shouldn’t park your car that close when Kelly’s batting. She can hit the ball pretty hard.”
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2