Game 1 stats: http://www.bluffton.edu/sports/softball/2012/04-22-s1.htm
I Game 2 stats: http://www.bluffton.edu/sports/softball/2012/04-22-s2.htm
The Bluffton University softball team capped off a fantastic weekend by clinching a berth in the upcoming Heartland Conference tournament which will be held at Anderson University starting Friday, May 4.
The Beavers rolled to a pair of convincing wins at Franklin College on Sunday, April 22, 2012. Bluffton took game one 8-1 before finishing off the home team 11-1 in five innings in the finale. The Beavers outscored Rose-Hulman and Franklin 35-2 in just 22 innings on Saturday and Sunday.
Freshman Jessica Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) doubled and scored to get the Beavers on the board in the second inning. Bluffton followed that up with three runs in the third. Katie Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) drew a one-out walk and moved to second on an Emily Manahan (Columbus/Bishop Watterson) single to center.
Lindsay Robertson (Cincinnati/Northwest) picked up Clark with a base knock before Kuzara singled home pinch runner Chelsea Weitz (Dayton/Carroll). A sacrifice fly to center by Mackenzie Bedlion (Marshallville/Smithville) made the score 4-0.
Alli Stropes homered to left with one out in the bottom of the third, but the Beavers responded with a pair of runs in the fourth. Clark plated seniors Meagan Price (Toledo/Springfield) and Chelsie Osborne (Chillicothe/Waverly) with single up the middle for a 6-1 lead midway through the fourth.
Robertson made it 8-1 with her first career dinger in the sixth. Kayla Owens (Cincinnati/McAuley) did the rest, setting the Grizzlies down in order in the sixth and seventh. She worked two perfect frames of relief. Starter Megan Patton (Waynesfield/Perry) improved to 8-6 with a dominating five-inning performance. She limited Franklin to one run on just two hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Clark was on fire, going 3-of-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Robertson went 2-of-4 with three RBI and two runs. Manahan and Kuzara both chipped in with two safeties in game one.
A Clark homer to right put Bluffton up 1-0 in the first inning of game two. Following a Franklin inning in which the Grizzlies made it 1-1 thanks to three hits, the Beavers added a single score in the second and two more in the third. Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) singled home Bedlion in the second, while Manahan and Robertson drove in runs an inning later for the 4-1 advantage.
The visitors broke it wide open with five tallies in the fourth en route to a 9-1 lead. Erford and Osborne both knocked in runs before Katie Clark equaled the Bluffton school record with her second home run of the game, a two-run blast to right center. It was her third bomb of the weekend.
Bluffton tacked on a pair of unearned runs in the fifth as pinch hitter Jo Bondra (Highland Heights/Mayfield) and Meagan Price crossed the plate on Chelsie Osborne's double to the wall in right center. Kayla Owens worked three perfect innings of relief, improving to 4-3 with the 11-1 victory. Chloe Shell (Covington) allowed just one run on four hits in two innings on the rubber.
Katie Clark blistered the Grizzlies, capping a 6-of-7 afternoon with a 3-of-4 performance in game two. She drove in three with her two dingers and scored three times. Osborne went 3-of-4 with three RBI. Robertson and Bedlion both chipped in with two hits in the finale and Bedlion scored two runs.
With the wins over RHIT and Franklin this weekend, Bluffton is assured of being either the #2 or #3 seed at #1 seed Anderson in the HCAC tournament. The Beavers meet up with Transylvania at Lexington, Ky., next Saturday in a showdown which will likely determine who is the home team in the first game of the HCAC tournament.
Bluffton will return home for a non-conference doubleheader with Ohio Wesleyan on Thursday, April 26, 2012. The first contest is slated for 3:30 p.m.