DEFIANCE, Ohio – The DC softball team took on its first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opponent of the season on Saturday, and looked solid on offense and defense as it downed Franklin, 5-1, in the first contest before completing the series sweep with a dominant 9-1 decision in game two.
Franklin entered the game with a conference-high .362 batting average and 5.75 runs per contest, but DC's starting pitchers, Shauna Bowers and Kelly Schnipke, surrendered just one run apiece in their respective starts as the Jackets cruised to an early 2-0 mark in the HCAC.
Bowers worked through the first six inning of game one without facing a single batter more than the minimum 18. She struck out seven of those 18 batters and allowed just one hit, a double from Kelsey Whitson, who was retired one batter later on an unassisted double play by Tasha Stucke.
Defiance recorded a pair of runs in the first inning, when Macy Ferrall and Stucke reached safely and were brought home by Marah Robinson with a double to right-center field. The 2-0 lead would stay intact until the top of the sixth inning, when leadoff hitter, Elizabeth Huffman, came to bat with the bases loaded, and cleared them with a double to left-center field.
Franklin made things interesting in the seventh, when the first three batters reached base safely and Stephanie Beasley put FC on the board with an RBI single to left field, but Bowers clamped down and retired the next three batters to end the game and claim her fourth win of the season.
In game two, the Grizzlies took their first and only lead of the series in the second inning, as Beasley led off the frame with a double, and came in to score on an infield error. The run was followed by a double that put two runners in scoring position with one out, but Schnipke came through with two-consecutive strikeouts to escape the inning.
Defiance tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the frame, and broke the game open with a four-run fourth inning. Katie Miller and Stephanie Esquibel reached base with a pair of singles, and Elizabeth Petrie capitalized on a pinch hitting opportunity with an RBI single to center field. Huffman and Stucke continued the inning with a pair of RBI singles, and Robinson finished the damage with an RBI infield single.
Two innings later, Ferrall started another big inning for DC with a double to center field, and Stucke pushed her to third with a hit up the middle. Robinson followed with another infield hit, and Kaycee Butt brought in two runs with a shot to right field. Miller tacked on another run with a single to right field, and Esquibel ended the game with a double to right center, bringing in Butt to give DC the six-inning run-rule victory. Robinson's hit was her fourth of the day, and gives the senior centerfielder a school-record 153 hits in her career.
Schnipke surrendered just five hits in the game, and improved to 4-3 with a 2.24 earned run average. Huffman picked up four RBI in the series, and now has 12 RBI in the last eight games.
Defiance (9-9; 2-0 HCAC) will continue its home stand on Wednesday, March 30, with a double header against Ohio Northern University (7-5), beginning at 3:30 p.m.