LEXINGTON, Ky. – Defiance went 2-0 in its first day at the 2011 HCAC Tournament, downing top-seeded Transylvania 3-1 in its first game before notching a 2-1 victory over Anderson in game two to punch a ticket to tomorrow's HCAC Championship Game.
The Yellow Jackets will be playing for their third HCAC Championship in four seasons when they take the field tomorrow afternoon.
Runs were at a premium in game one, as Transylvania's Kendra DeArk entered the game with a 2.12 earned run average while Defiance countered with the HCAC's winningest pitcher this season in Shauna Bowers. The teams swapped zeros through the first two innings before Defiance broke up the pitching duel with three runs on three hits in the top of the third.
Freshman infielder, Macy Ferrall, began the inning for Defiance by hustling through a likely infield groundout and taking second base on an error by Transy's first baseman. Tasha Stucke followed with a single down the left field line, pushing Ferrall to third, and Mallory Faling drove in the first run of the day with a shot to center field. Stucke made it a 2-0 lead with some aggressive base running on a passed ball, and Kaycee Butt finished the damage with a RBI single up the middle, scoring Faling to give DC a 3-0 advantage.
Transylvania got on the board in the bottom of the fourth, when reigning HCAC Freshman of the Year and MVP, Megan Mitchell, belted a leadoff single over the left field wall to make it a 3-1 game. The Pioneers' next batter singled to left field, but Defiance picked her off at second as she attempted to stretch it into a double. Transy ended with three hits in the inning but just one run scored, and DC took the 3-1 edge into the fifth.
Transy kept the pressure on DC's defense, recording three hits in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but the Jackets continued making critical defensive plays to maintain the 3-1 advantage. Bowers made quick work of Transy in the seventh, and Defiance snapped the Pioneers' 15-game winning streak with their first loss since late March.
Kelly Schnipke got the start for DC in game two, and was charged with the task of containing the HCAC's top-ranked offense in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. Anderson picked up one run on two hits in the bottom of the first, but Schnipke rebounded to hold the Ravens scoreless on just two hits through the next three innings.
Defiance finally got on the board in the top of the fifth, when Aubrie Ridinger singled to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Stucke. Marah Robinson drove her home with a shot down the left field line to tie the game at one run apiece.
Bowers took over for Schnipke in the bottom of the fifth and got off to a rocky start with Anderson's first two batters reaching base on back-to-back singles. The Ravens looked primed for at least one run with the heart of the lineup due to bat with no outs and two runners on, but Bowers bounced back with back-to-back strikeouts and induced an infield popup to escape the inning. Neither team would score in the seventh, and the game moved into extra innings with the score locked at 1-1.
Butt led off the eighth inning with a walk for Defiance, and Katie Miller followed with a single to push her to second and force Anderson into a pitching change. Elizabeth Petrie moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and Coach Holava called on junior outfielder, Elizabeth Huffman, for a pivotal pinch hitting opportunity. Huffman came through with the eventual game-winning RBI single, bringing in Butt for the 2-1 lead.
The Ravens were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning, and Bowers was credited with her 12th win, giving the junior hurler the most victories in the HCAC this season.
Defiance (20-20; 10-6 HCAC) will return to action in game six tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. against the winner of an 11:00 a.m. tilt between Transylvania and Anderson. If the Jackets win game six, they will emerge as the HCAC Champs for the third time in four seasons. If DC falls short in game six, a seventh game will be held to determine the HCAC Champions.