Two Wins in Two Different Ways Push Softball to 6-0

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
 

Baseball

After outdueling a national pitcher of the year in the morning game, sophomore Kelsey Jones settled in, her playing done for the day, to keep the scorebook for the Muhlenberg softball team’s afternoon game against Marywood.

It might sound like a relaxing day in the Florida sun, but with this Mule team, games are rarely relaxing.

Jones had to fill in plenty of diamonds as Muhlenberg came back from three deficits, the last time by scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, to defeat Marywood, 12-11.

The wins gave the Mules a 6-0 record, matching the best start in program history (achieved previously in 1997 and 2004). Dating back to last season, Muhlenberg has won 10 in a row, its longest streak since a school-record 20-game run in 1991.

Kelsey Jones Four of the wins have been of the heart-stopping variety, with the Mules scoring in their final at-bat to win by one run. Two of those came in extra innings.

“We like to say we’re keeping it interesting,” joked Jones. “We don’t want people to get bored.”

By comparison, the first game of the day might have seemed “boring,” except that it had Jones matched up against Sam Derr, who transferred to Lebanon Valley after going 30-5 with a 0.89 ERA and being named Division II national pitcher of the year at Kutztown last season.

Jones (right) pitched a brilliant three-hitter, striking out seven, in the Mules’ 5-1 win.

“We knew she was going to be good, but we’ve faced some really good pitchers before,” said Jones. “When I go out there, I just stick with my game plan. If I try and change my game plan, I get messed up.”

Muhlenberg took advantage of an error to jump on top in the first, with junior Erica Wenzel delivering an RBI single, and extended its lead to 3-0 on a two-run double by junior Chelsea Benjamin the following inning.

The Dutchmen got a run back in the fourth, but the Mules scored twice in the sixth on three straight walks, the last two with the bases loaded.

That was all Jones needed, as she retired 11 of the last 12 hitters against a Lebanon Valley team that was picked first in the Commonwealth Conference preseason poll.

Chelsea Benjamin “It was definitely exciting to beat her,” said Jones of her decorated counterpart. “We played an all-around good game. It felt good to get that win.”

The second win felt equally as good but came in decidedly different fashion. Muhlenberg trailed 4-0 before scoring five times in the bottom of the second, with two bases-loaded walks preceding a go-ahead two-run single by junior Kelly Kline.

Marywood scored twice in the top of the third to go back ahead, 6-5, but the Mules plated four runs in their half of the frame. Benjamin (left) capped the rally with a two-run double.

The pitchers settled down in the middle innings, and the score remained 9-6 until Marywood scored three runs in the top of the seventh to tie things up. After a scoreless Muhlenberg seventh, the Pacers took their third lead of the game with two runs in the top of the eighth.

The Mules had them right where they wanted them. After Kline was placed on second to start the bottom of the eighth, Wenzel walked and freshman Taylor Trifiolis singled to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by freshman Brittany Dzieciolowski made it 11-10, and Wenzel scored on an infield error to tie the game.

The next batter, junior pinch-hitter Colleen O’Donnell, singled, and Trifiolis was thrown out at the plate trying to score the winning run. But the Mules walked off with the win anyway thanks to an error on the next play.

Muhlenberg’s two extra-inning wins this season match its total from the last five years. And with four one-run wins already, the Mules have one more than they did all last year.

“The difference is that we have the will and the toughness to come through,” said Jones. “The batters find a way to make it happen – we have all the confidence in the world in each other.

“It’s a big change from last year [when the Mules started out 1-5 in Florida]. We’re having so much fun. It’s been a great season, and it’s only six games in. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: Lebanon Valley game | Marywood game