By: Nick Taflinger, sports information assistant
PLANT CITY, Fla. - The Bluffton University softball squad had a rough final day in the Sunshine State, dropping both games en route to a 2-8 mark as the Beavers head back to Ohio. St. John Fisher defeated the Beavers 8-2 in game one, and game two was much of the same story as Ohio Northern defeated Bluffton 11-2 in five innings.
Bluffton's first two batters, Kelsey Reeder (Galion) and Sydney Bowen (Convoy), both drew four-pitch walks. Courtney Jasinski (Englewood) stepped up to the plate and struck a dart to right center, scoring Reeder from second base. St. John Fisher would respond and then some as they put up three runs in the bottom of the first, making it 3-1 after one inning.
St. John Fisher added two more runs in the bottom of the third and Bluffton trailed 5-1 after three.
The Beavers went down without a hit in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, unable to get anything going at the plate. They kept the game in reach until the bottom of the sixth when it got away. St. John Fisher pounded two doubles and scored three runners in the inning, leading comfortably at 8-1 going into the final frame.
The Beavers wouldn't go down without a fight, loading the bases in the top of the seventh with hope for a rally. Taylor Steinke (Findlay) was hit by a pitch with the bases full, scoring Bowen. That was all she wrote, however, as the Beavers dropped game one by the final of 8-2.
Megan Hill (Arcadia) went 2-for-4. Reeder and Bowen both scored a run for the purple team. Katie McCord (Lawrenceburg) got the start for the Beavers, pitching 2.2 innings while giving up five runs on seven hits as she fell to 2-3 on the season. Freshman Molly Bollinger (Lima) tossed the final 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits.
Fisher piled up seven more hits than the Beavers (11-4) while both teams committed an error in the ball game.
In game two, ONU attacked from the get-go. With two outs in the top of the first, ONU came up with back-to-back doubles for a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, things went downhill in a hurry. Bluffton gave up seven runs on seven hits with the Polar Bear bats in mid-season form. The Beavers suddenly found themselves in a 9-0 hole after just one and a half innings. Bluffton tried to weather the storm as Tabatha Koetter (Beavercreek) dres a free pass with the sacks full, scoring Morstadt from third base. Bollinger's ground ball picked up Brianna Baker (Defiance) and Bluffton trailed 9-2 after two.
After a scoreless third inning, ONU extended their already comfortable lead to 11-2 in the top of the fourth when a triple with two outs plated two. That would be the final when Bluffton came up empty in the fourth and fifth.
Reeder, Baker and Koetter were the only Beavers to record a hit in game two. Jasinski started in the circle for Bluffton, pitching just 1.1 innings. She surrendered five runs on five hits. Fellow junior Alexis Montemarano (Brook Park) worked 3.2 innings out of the pen, giving up six runs on eight hits.
Both teams committed two errors in the game. Bluffton lost the hit category by a 13-3 margin.
The Beavers will be off for an entire week to the day before returning to action next Friday, March 15, when they host Kalamazoo for the home opener! Game one is slated to start at 3 p.m. Come out and support your Beavers!