Softball Clinches Playoff Berth with Sweep of Ursinus

Saturday, April 19, 2014
 

Baseball Tennis, track & field

Alyssa Schell earned the nickname “Cookies” by bringing cookies on her recruiting visit to Muhlenberg. And she’s been delivering the goods ever since for the Mule softball team.

Schell had three hits, including the 100th of her career, and drove in two runs as Muhlenberg clinched a Centennial Conference playoff berth and moved closer to its second consecutive regular-season title with a 2-0, 9-0 sweep at Ursinus.

Colleen O'Donnell
Sacrifice bunts by O'Donnell set up both Muhlenberg runs in the first game.
With one doubleheader left to play (at home against Franklin & Marshall a week from today), the Mules (23-7, 12-2) have a two-game lead in the loss column over Washington, McDaniel and Haverford. They need to win just one game against F&M to earn the right to host the CC playoffs for the second year in a row.

The sweep marked the first time the Mules shut out the Bears (7-21, 2-12) in both ends of a doubleheader, and it also carved out a piece of Muhlenberg history for the senior trio of Kelly Kline, Colleen O’Donnell and Erica Wenzel: It gave them 98 wins together, tying them with the 1992 softball seniors as the winningest senior class ever in any sport at the College.

Muhlenberg didn’t score many runs in the first game, but it didn’t need to. Junior Kelsey Jones pitched a three-hitter for her 11th career shutout (fifth this season), retiring the final 17 batters. Ursinus loaded the bases on three consecutive singles in the bottom of the first, but Jones got out of the jam with a strikeout – her only one of the game – and a groundout.

Jones walked the second batter of the second but mowed down the Bears in quick order after that. She improved to 7-0 with a 0.60 ERA in her seven CC starts this year.

Kline scored both Mule runs, the first in the third inning after reaching on an outfield error and scoring on an infield error. She led off the fifth with a single and eventually scored on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by sophomore Brittany Dzieciolowski (right).

Brittany Dzieciolowski Junior Heather Porrini picked up where Jones left off in the second game, tossing her own three-hit shutout for her 10th win of the season. She and Jones are the first pair of Mule hurlers to reach double digits in wins in the same season since 2001. Two of the hits Porrini allowed were bunt singles, and until the first one with two outs in the fourth, the Bears had gone 10 1/3 innings without a hit.

“Our pitchers are absolutely remarkable,” said Schell. “It’s amazing having a good pitching staff. I know we’ll score runs eventually, but if we’re struggling at the plate I know our pitching and defense will carry us.”

Muhlenberg did score runs eventually, and plenty of them. Kline gave the Mules a 1-0 lead in the first with the first of her four singles, and two more runs came in on infield ground balls.

Schell singled up the middle with two outs in the second for her milestone hit. The junior is the 29th player in program history to reach the century mark.

The 28th player, O’Donnell, doubled in a pair of runs in the third to make it 5-0. Schell’s two-out, two-run single upped the lead to 7-0 in the fifth, and Muhlenberg added two more in the sixth on an RBI single by sophomore Amie DeFeo and a bases-loaded walk.

Schell helped to preserve the shutout in the bottom of the sixth by making a diving catch in left with a runner on second.

The Mules will bring a season-high six-game winning streak into Tuesday’s non-CC twinbill at Misericordia and appear to be rounding into shape for a postseason run.

“We just focus on staying in the present and doing all the little things right,” said Schell. “We’re still looking to improve.”
Click here for line scores.
Click here for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2