Softball Advances on Walkoff But Falls in Final

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Track & field

With her storied career, and her team’s season, hanging in the balance, Kelly Kline added one more achievement to her legacy.

The Mules celebrate at home with Schell and DeFeo (second and third from left) before turning their attention to Kline (third from right, head down).
Kline delivered a two-out, walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Muhlenberg softball team to a 2-1 win against McDaniel in an elimination game of the Centennial Conference playoffs. The dramatic hit not only put the Mules into the championship round, but it also was the 100th win for head coach Marisa DeStasio and the trio of Kline, Colleen O’Donnell and Erica Wenzel – the winningest senior class in any sport in Muhlenberg history.

The Mules did not reach their ultimate objective of the tournament, however. Haverford won the next game, 6-2, to capture its first CC title since 2006 and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Muhlenberg finished its season with a record of 25-13.

The four teams that have gathered at Cedarcreek Field for the CC playoffs the last two years – Muhlenberg, Haverford, McDaniel and Washington – have each won one CC championship in the last four years.

The first game began as the duel that would be expected by the two 2013 CC co-pitchers of the year, Mule junior Kelsey Jones and McDaniel junior Caroline Brehm. Jones was perfect through the first three innings, while Brehm did not allow a batted ball in play (eight strikeouts and a walk) the first time through the order.

Sarah Merlo
Freshman pinch-runner Sarah Merlo slides in safely to score the Mules' first run of the Haverford game on a sacrifice fly.
McDaniel’s first baserunner, on a leadoff walk in the fourth, ended up scoring the first run of the game on a groundout, and although Muhlenberg put runners on base in every inning from the third through the sixth, the score remained 1-0 heading into the seventh.

The Mules caught a break in the top of the seventh when a pinch-runner who would have scored easily from second on a single up the middle tripped while rounding third and was tagged out, leaving the Green Terror with just a 1-0 lead.

Sophomore Amie DeFeo led off the bottom of the seventh by dunking a ball inside the right-field line for a single. Junior Alyssa Schell followed with a bunt, and when Brehm’s throw to second was too late to get DeFeo, Muhlenberg had the tying and winning runs on base with nobody out.

Wenzel bunted the runners over to second and third, setting the stage for high drama. Arguably the best hitter in the CC over the last three years – Kline, who finished her career second on the all-time CC list with 30 home runs and 152 RBI – against arguably the best pitcher in the CC over the last three years – Brehm, the CC all-time leader with 1,058 strikeouts – with the game and championship hopes on the line.

Kline won the battle, dropping in a single to left as DeFeo and Schell scored without a throw to set off a celebration. The hit was the 183rd of Kline’s career, putting her in sole possession of first place on the Mules’ all-time list.

The celebration spilled over into the postgame, as the Mules paused to recognize their head coach before turning their attention to the Fords, who they needed to beat twice.

Each team scored a run in the second, and Haverford took advantage of two errors to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the top of the seventh, when the Fords brought home four runs to break the game open. Muhlenberg scored a run on an error in the bottom of the seventh and got the tying run to the on-deck circle, but a groundout to shortstop ended the game, and the season.

It also ended the memorable careers of the three seniors, who finished with a record of 100-58-1, one CC championship and two CC regular-season titles. Asked about the wins record before Senior Day last week, Kline spoke for her two classmates on the team and many college athletes when she offered this sentiment: “I credit our success to our close relationships. While it is always our goal to get the W, I know that I win every day I am able to play on the field beside my best friends.”
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: McDaniel game | Haverford game