THOOSIERS SCORE THREE TIMES IN BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH TO SALVAGE SPLIT WITH EMU
Bloomington, IN - Indiana was two outs from what would have amounted to a very disappointing home opening doubleheader against Eastern Michigan at the IU Softball Field today but the Hoosiers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh of the nightcap to salvage a split of the twinbill with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Eagles. Eastern Michigan (2-12) notched a 3-2 win in the first game. Today's doubleheader marked the home debut of first-year head coach Sara Hayes. The Hoosiers (7-9) have not won a home opener since a 1-0 victory over DePaul on March 15, 1998.
Trailing 4-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh of the second game, junior Heather Stillians singled to center field to open the inning. After she advanced to second on a ground out, freshman Abby Page grounded to third base but Liz Flack's throw was wide of the bag at first. Page immediately stole second and both runners scored on junior Valerie White's double to rightcenter that found the fence between centerfielder Genny Hann and rightfielder Lauren Allen. First-game winner Marla Otterbacher (2-7) relieved starter Nikki Denman and was greeted immediately by senior Heather Suca's double off of the rightfield fence that scored White from second with the winning run.
"We definitely didn't perform with our best foot forward today," said Hayes. "We hit decently, and we defended decently, but we weren't sharp. We looked soft of flat. The positive was that we had a good finish to what amounted to an ugly second game."
Freshman Megan Roark (1-0) earned the victory for the Hoosiers as she retired the three batters she faced in the top of the seventh inning. She entered the game after starter Katie Witham surrendered a solo home run by second baseman Deanna Wisnieski to lead off the seventh. Witham pitched six innings and allowed 11 hits and four earned runs, while striking out seven and walking one. Eastern Michigan starter Nikki Denman (0-3) sustained the loss as she allowed seven hits and four earned runs in 6 1/3 inning pitched, while allowing only one walk and striking out three.
"Being the home opener, I think we were a little nervous and edgy and that contributed to us being a little flat," said White. "Something clicked for us during the last few innings of the second game and we started to settle in a little bit better. We have to improve our focus early in games."
Indiana recorded eights hits in the nightcap, with junior leftfielder Abby Stark and Stillians recording two hits each. White, who hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth that closed EMU's lead to 3-2, recorded three RBI. Eastern Michigan recorded three home runs in the second game - a two-run homer by Hann in the first inning and solo shots by Nikki Denman and Wisnieski.
In the first game, Stillians (4-5) sustained the loss as she allowed eight hits and two earned runs, while walking one and striking out four, in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Roark pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief and allowed two hits and one run (none earned), while striking out two. White recorded three of the Hoosiers eight hits. Freshman Lauren Hines recorded two hits and an RBI and Dawn Ramynke hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
It didn't take long for Eastern Michigan to figure Stillians in the first game as third baseman Liz Flack singled to left field to open the first inning and advanced to second on a sharply hit ball to Denman. After both runners advanced on a ground out, cleanup hitter Katie Grens singled to right to score both Flack and Denman to provide the Eagles with a 2-0 lead.
Eastern Michigan started Marla Otterbacher in the circle and White immediately greeted the senior hurler with a single. With two outs, senior Lauren Hines reached on a sun-aided double that scored White from first to cut EMU's lead to 2-1.
Stillians attempted to help her own cause in the bottom of the fifth as she singled to left to leadoff the inning. Witham pinch ran for Stillians and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ramynke. Senior Katie Joy followed with a sharply hit ball to shortstop and Witham was caught too far off the second base bag and was forced out. With Joy at first, White single to right field and Joy, who was planning to stop at second, advanced to third when rightfielder Lauren Allen bobbled the ball. Indiana attempted another double steal attempt but this time Otterbacher received the return throw from catcher Katie Grens and the EMU pitcher cut down Joy at second base ending the inning.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Carolyn Grutza and Genny Hann reached on back-to-back singles Hayes replaced Stillians with freshman Megan Roark. Leftfielder Kelly Gulliver attempted to advance the runners on a sacrifice bunt attempt but Hanson cut down the lead runner on a force out at third. Roark then retired Flack on a ground out to end the inning.
Indiana again threatened in the bottom of the sixth as Hines singled with two outs. Abby Page then pinch ran for Hines and stole second base but Abby Stark grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning.
Denman led off the top of the seventh with a double to center and advanced to third on a perfectly placed bunt single by Wisnieski. With runners on first and second and no outs, Roark struck out Grens. On the play, Eastern Michigan attempted a double steal and the throw to second by Hanson attempting to cut down the runner at second hit second baseman Ashley Griffiths' glove and caromed into centerfield. Denman scored on the play to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Ramynke homered to leftcenter but the Hoosiers could not manage to push any additional runs across the plate.
In the second game, Witham opened in the circle, while Eastern Michigan countered with freshman Nikki Denman. After Witham allowed only a single in the top of the first and Denman retired the side in order, designated player Christie Koester doubled to centerfield and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carolyn Grutza. Centerfielder Genny Hann followed by hitting a 3-2 delivery from Witham over the leftfield fence to give Eastern Michigan a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, Abby Stark singled and then scored on a double by Stillians to draw the Hoosiers to within one run, 2-1.
The Hoosiers host Bradley for a doubleheader on Tuesday that begins at 1:00 p.m.