A CRAZY DAY AT THE BALLPARK AS HOOSIERS TAKE TWO FROM WRIGHT STATE IN DAYTON
Dayton, Ohio - Two umpires, a lined field, and a scoreboard that works for the entire game would have been nice. Then again, a Sara Hayes-led Indiana softball team would play in a parking lot with a circus clown as an umpire if it meant winning both games of a doubleheader, which is exactly what the first-year head coach's charges did today with two victories (3-0 and 7-3) over Wright State. Indiana improves to 14-14 (0-2 Big Ten) on the year, which already exceeds its 2002 win total of 13, with more than 20 games remaining in this year's campaign.
While the Hoosiers couldn't argue with today's bottom line, the manner in which things materialized wouldn't have been funnier with Adam Sandler in a starring role. After 22 consecutive games on the road to open its 2003 campaign, Wright State (6-18 overall, 1-1 Horizon League) appeared eager for its home opener. Yet, there was one major problem as only one umpire decided to show up for the 2:00 p.m. first pitch.
But wait, there was another issue; the first and third baselines and pitcher's circle weren't chalked. With the grounds crew toiling at the Wright State baseball field, no one bothered to line the softball diamond until ten minutes after two o'clock. Then again, it really didn't matter much as there was no softball to be played with only one umpire. At 2:23 p.m., the field umpire was seen bounding across the four-lane road near the 675 interchange on his way toward the field. Mercifully, the first pitch finally came at 2:27 p.m.
To add confusion to the mayhem, in the top of the sixth inning of the second game, the scoreboard lights went dark. In the bottom half of the same inning the scoreboard magically relit, displaying 6 runs for the guests, the digit 6 in the inning slot, and a 6 in the home column -- 666 --yes, at times, the field did seem possessed.
In spite of the craziness, the Hoosiers provided enough entertainment on their own throughout the day as junior Heather Stillians (7-6) and freshman Megan Roark combined to record a three-hit shutout in the opener. A triple by freshman Lauren Hines that she legged home on a throwing error by a Wright State outfielder, a run-scoring single by Valerie White, and a solo home run by senior catcher Stormy Hanson, was more than enough offensive firepower to win the opener. Stillians allowed only one hit in five innings pitched, while walking none and striking out nine. Roark pitched two innings of relief and allowed only two hits and no walks, while striking out three. Wright State's Kristin Bultinck (6-8) pitched well in defeat, allowing only four hits and three earned runs, while walking one and striking out seven, in seven innings pitched.
In the nightcap, Roark (3-0) entered the game with no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sophomore Katie Witham, who relieved Stillians after two innings pitched, had allowed four consecutive base hits and the Raiders had pulled to within 3-2 before Roark entered the game. Roark worked out of the inning with only one more run crossing the plate and Indiana exploded for four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 7-3 lead. Roark worked a total of three innings and did not allow a hit, while walking two and striking out two. Hanson, who doubled in the first and recorded a solo home run to lead off the top of the fifth inning, notched three hits and two RBI in the nightcap. Freshman Abby Page recorded a career-high three hits and Abby Stark and Dawn Ramynke tallied two hits each. The Hoosiers recorded 13 hits but did strand nine batters, while Wright State notched 10 hits and left 10 runners on base.
Whether the field was lined or not wouldn't have mattered at all in the top of the first inning of the opener as Bultinck retired Valerie White, Heather Suca, and Hanson, on two strikeouts and a popout, respectively. Bultinck entered today's contest having struck out 105 batters in 106 innings pitched, while allowing only 77 hits.
Hayes countered with Stillians, who had not pitched since March 23 because of what essentially amounted to a muscle pull in her rib cage. After retiring the last hitter in the bottom of the first inning on strikes, she also retired the top two hitters in the second on strikeouts and struck out the side in the bottom of the third.
Indiana took a 1-0 in the top of the second inning as Hines led off the inning with a triple to right field and scored on the play as rightfielder Erin Hanlon's throw to the infield was very errant and ended up landing in left field.
The Hoosiers extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the third inning as Page drew a one-out walk. After stealing second base, White singled sharply to centerfield, which plated Page from second.
Junior leftfielder Amy Price broke up Stillians' no hitter with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning on a sharply hit single to center.
Wright State attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, catcher Laura Workman reached on an error. After a fielder's choice that retired Workman at second, first baseman Kristin Windhorst was hit by a pitch, which placed runners at first and second. Stillians then retired pinch hitter Brandi Steiner on strikes to end the threat.
Hanson's home run to left field with one out in the top of the sixth inning extended the IU lead to 3-0.
Freshman Megan Roark entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning to replace Stillians. With two outs in the sixth, Price recorded her second hit of the game on another single to center.
Junior Jacqueline Goosen, who has compiled an 0-8 record in 2003 despite a stellar 1.58 earned run average, retired the first two Indiana hitters she faced but on a ground out by Suca, who was the second Indiana hitter of the game, Goosen beat the IU runner to first base but sprained her ankle on the play. She was forced to leave the game and was replaced by Bultinck. This past weekend, Bultinck pitched all 18 innings in an 11-10 victory over Cleveland State.
Stillians started in the circle to begin the second game and surrendered a leadoff single to Erin Hanlon. Amanda Rutherford followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that Ramynke, who was playing third base, threw down the rightfield line, which allowed Hanlon to score from first to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. Rutherford advanced to third on the play yet was stranded there as Stillians retired the next three hitters she faced.
To begin the second, Wright State head coach Sheila Nahrgang turned to junior hurler Lindsey Palen, who had only worked 1/3 innings this spring.
In the top of the third, Ramynke singled and advanced to second when Page reached on an infield single on a attempted sacrifice bunt attempt. After White reached on a fielder's choice that forced Ramynke out at third for the first out of the inning, Suca fouled off several pitches before eventually drawing a walk that loaded the bases. Hanson followed with a ground out to Palen that forced out Page at the plate. With two outs and a full count, Palen's throw to first on a ground out by Hines was errant and White and Suca scored on the play to provide the Hoosiers with a 2-1 advantage.
Katie Witham replaced Stillians to begin the bottom of the third inning. She surrendered an infield single to Amanda Rutherford, who advanced to second base on a passed ball. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Price, designated player Lauren Boggs flew out to centerfield and Rutherford was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw by centerfielder Katie Joy as Hanson applied the tag after receiving the throw on the fly.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Stillians, Ramynke, and Page reached on consecutive singles, two of the infield variety, which sandwiched Ramynke's single to deep left field. With the bases loaded and one out, Palen retired White and Suca on back-to-back pop outs.
Wright State answered with three consecutive singles with one out in the bottom of the fourth to load the bases. After retiring the second out of the inning on strikes, leadoff hitter Erin Hanlon hit a sinking liner to left field. Stark, who was aligned perfectly near the line, snared the ball to end the threat.
The Hoosiers extended their lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth as Hanson recorded her second solo home run of the game, this one to centerfield.
Wright State again answered with three sharply hit singles to lead off the bottom of the fifth. With no outs and the bases loaded, third baseman Becky Babin singled to score Amanda Rutherford from third base to close the Raiders to within, 3-2. Following Babin's single, Hayes replaced Witham with Roark, who inherited the bases loaded. After a shallow fly to left that held Price at third, Roark retired Brandi Steiner on a fielder's choice that forced out Price at the plate. On a full count to Stephanie Salas, the Wright State first baseman earned a walk. Lauren Boggs scored on the bases on balls to tie the game at 3-3. Roark stuck out Carly Rutherford to work out of the inning.
Indiana put the game out of reach in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs to take an insurmountable 7-3 lead. Page reached on an infield single. After White failed to advance her to second on two failed sacrifice bunt attempts, she essentially inadvertently moved Page to second on a ground out to third base. With Page on second and one out, she advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then the scoreboard went out. On the very next pitch, Page scored on yet another wild pitch. Suca followed with a double and scored on a single by Hanson, who later scored on a single to right by Stark. Joy followed with a double that scored Stark for the fourth run of the inning.
Indiana returns to action on Friday when it hosts the University of Minnesota at 3:00 p.m.