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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Softball breaks record in
near-perfect season finale

The perfect ending to the career of the player her teammates call, well, “Perfect,” probably would have been a walkoff homer. But recording the final out from third base to complete a season-ending sweep was still a pretty good way for senior Jenna Van Waalwijk to go out.

“Stuff like that happens to me all the time,” laughed Van Waalwijk. “I really wanted that last ball to come to me and it did.”

She made the throw to first to complete a 2-1 victory over Neumann in the nightcap, which was won on a sacrifice fly from junior Alyssa Bruckner in the bottom of the sixth. The Mules won Game 1, 6-2, behind a five-hitter from Bruckner.

Jenna Littmann
Littmann slides around the tag to break the steals record.
In the victories Muhlenberg accomplished a bit of history: it broke the school record for stolen bases in a season. Needing five over the course of the doubleheader to tie the record, the Mules stole six in the first game alone, with the record breaker coming from freshman Jenna Littmann in the sixth. Muhlenberg added three more in Game 2, setting the single-season standard at 72 swipes.

“After about the second game of the year, we said, ‘Let’s break a record,’” commented Van Waalwijk. “The steals record is a pretty hefty record, and we haven’t been a big stealing team recently. But it’s nice to be able to steal and put runners in scoring position without having to sacrifice.

“And it just shows how fast we are,” she joked.

The wins also gave Muhlenberg (14-19) some payback after dropping a pair of one-run games to the Knights (21-16) in Florida last season.

“We’ve been looking forward to these games all year,” said Van Waalwijk. “We’ve been waiting to get them back. It felt good to knock them down both times.”

Devon Barber
Barber reaches on an error in the fourth inning of Game 1. She would go on to score on an RBI groundout from junior Jess Kasza.
The deciding sac fly in the second game appeared to be headed for a literal knockdown – a collision at the plate – but Neumann’s catcher could not pick up the incoming throw from left field in the sun and junior Alyssa Epstein scored easily.

The Mules’ first run of the game came in the second, when sophomore Shelby Smith ripped a triple to left to plate freshman Angie Sisco, who reached on a walk.

The Knights got that run back in their next turn at bat, taking advantage of a pair of Muhlenberg errors. But Sisco worked out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout and a groundout, then worked out of another bases-loaded situation in the next frame.

Neumann never seriously threatened after that, and Sisco finished with a six-hit, three-strikeout performance.

In the first game it was the Knights that were making the errors, and the Mules took advantage. After Neumann scored twice in the top of the first, a pair of errors helped Muhlenberg take the lead. Freshman Devon Barber scored the first run, and then with second and third following the errors Epstein singled through the left side to plate two more.

The Mules added two in the third and one in the fourth – none of which came on hits. The first two scored on fielder’s choices, and the last on a groundout to short.

Bruckner shut the door the rest of the way, recording 1-2-3 innings in the fourth, sixth and seventh and allowing just two hits after the Knights’ two-run first.

“We played a solid 14 innings, and that’s what we’ve been working toward all year,” said Van Waalwijk. “Epstein was unbelievable batting cleanup, and Alyssa and Angie pitched great. It was a total team effort, and it was good to go out with two wins.”

Epstein went 2-for-3 at the plate in both games, driving in two in the first. Barber, Van Waalwijk and Littmann stole two bases each in the two games combined.
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2

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