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Beavers move to 5-1 in the HCAC with sweep of Defiance

April 4, 2013
By: Sean Anderson, sports information assistant

BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University softball team swept the Defiance College Yellow Jackets on Thursday, April 4, 2013. The Beavers won the first game, 11-9, and kept it going in game two, winning 12-4 in five innings. With the two wins, the Beavers improved to 13-11 overall and 5-1 in the Heartland Conference, while Defiance College fell to 9-11 overall and 2-4 in the HCAC one day after shocking #5 Trine University, 3-2.

The Jackets came out swinging in game one, starting off with four straight singles. However, Bluffton limited the visitors to just one score after sophomore KATIE CLARK (New Palestine, Ind.) gunned down MAGGIE NEANEN who was trying to score from second on a KATIE PATCHIN base hit to right. The Beavers answered in the bottom of the first, striking right back and scoring three runs of their own. SHELBY ERFORD (Paulding) reached on a throwing error to lead off the inning for the Beavers. Katie Clark doubled to right center, scoring Erford. After two more errors by the Jackets, NATALIE NIKITAS (Jeffersonville, Ind.) doubled to left field, knocking in two for a 3-1 lead

In the top of the third inning the Yellow Jackets scored five runs on four hits and two throwing errors as Defiance went ahead, 6-3. In the bottom of the frame the Beavers fired back with five runs of their own thanks to a Defiance defense that committed three more errors. JESSICA KUZARA (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) doubled to right center before scoring on a miscue by Defiance. After a walk, SHELBY WADE (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) doubled to right center, plating Nikitas in the process. Erford then singled to score another run. Freshman ASHLEY KNIPPEN'S (Wapakoneta) bunt single scored Wade.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Nikitas doubled again, this time to right center. BRITTANY BAKER (Springboro) followed with a homer to left center on a 3-2 count, putting the Beavers up, 10-6. Bluffton and Defiance scored one run apiece in the the sixth inning. Natalie Nikitas homered to center field. Baker got her second hit of the game with a single to left field.

The Jackets made it interesting with two runs in the seventh, but CHLOE SHELL(Covington) worked out of trouble and picked up the win when she induced a game-ending groundout as she improved to 7-4 on the year. Shell allowed nine runs, five earned, on 13 hits in her complete-game effort

Knippen, Erford and Baker each went 2-of-4, while Nikitas was 3-of-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Kuzara, Erford and Baker all scored two times in the lidlifter.

In game two the Jackets came out swinging again and scored two runs in the first inning. The Beavers came back in the bottom of the first to score a run after Knippen doubled down the right field line and crossed the dish on a fielding error by Defiance.

An inning later the Beavers exploded for six runs. Muffo singled on a bunt and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Baker. Wade doubled to left center, scoring Muffo. JOHANNA BONDRA (Highland Heights/Mayfield) singled to left center, moving Wade to third before she crossed the plate on a fielder's choice by Erford. A Knippen base knock to right center plated Erford and Bondra. Clark tripled to right field, scoring Knippen and putting the Beavers up, 7-2.

In the third inning the Jackets scored two runs, but the Beavers added four more in the fourth. Erford reached on an error by Defiance and she came around to score on a double to left field by Knippen. Katie Clark reached on an error by Defiance. Kuzara singled to right center, scoring Knippen. Muffo's single to left field scored Kuzara and Clark. Heading into the fifth Bluffton was ahead 11-4.

The fifth inning was started off with a single by Erford and she moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Knippen. Clark singled up the middle to score Erford and give the Beavers a 12-4 mercy-rule victory.

KAYLA OWENS (Cincinnati/McAuley) got it done in the circle, improving to 5-5 on the season. She limited Defiance to four runs, two earned, on four hits in the complete-game five-inning victory.

Knippen and Muffo went 3-of-3 for the Beavers. Knippen found the two-hole to her liking, going 5-of-7 with four RBI and three runs scored for the day.

Bluffton returns to action on Saturday, April 6, when the Beavers travel to Cincinnati for a doubleheader with HCAC-foe Mount St. Joseph. The first contest is slated for 1 p.m.