Beavers clinch HCAC tournament berth
Bluffton clinches HCAC tournament berth following split with Spartans
April 28, 2010
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University softball team can sit back and watch the rest of the Heartland Conference battle it out to determine who else will play next weekend, but the Beavers' split with Manchester College on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, ensured Coach Bruder and her squad that Bluffton will continue its season in the HCAC tournament on May 7-8. The Beavers, who have qualified for the four-team HCAC tournament in each of Coach Bruder's four years at Bluffton, improved to 17-20 overall and 11-5 in the HCAC, while Manchester stands at 20-17-1 and 8-6 in the conference.
Manchester 6, Bluffton 3
Amy Hommema drove in two runs with her third-inning single, putting the visitors up 2-0. Bluffton knotted the game with two scores in the bottom of the frame. Brooke Babcock (Findlay) ripped an RBI double to right center, scoring Shelby Wade (Delaware/Buckeye Valley) from first base with two outs. Jessica McDonald then followed with a base hit to center that pushed Babcock across the plate.
The Spartans came back with three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to make the score 6-2. Jayme Marbaugh (Ohio City/Parkway) pounded her fifth home run of the season to left in the bottom of the sixth, but Manchester shut the Beavers down in the seventh to seal its 6-3 victory in game one.
Brooke Babcock fell to 8-10 on the season after giving up six runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Bluffton 6, Manchester 5
Bluffton jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first off Manchester starter Kristi Brown who had improved to 15-4 on the season with her victory in game one. A wild pitch allowed pinch runner Tiffany Buckmaster (Lima/Bath) to score in the fourth as the Beavers pushed their lead to 3-0.
The visitors responded with three runs in the top of the fourth when Holly Morris homered over the fence in right center with Samantha Reynolds and Amy Hommema on base.
Shelby Wade singled home Stevie Cuttitta (Columbiaville, Mich./Clio) in the home half of the fourth before Chelsie Osborne's (Chillicothe/Waverly) RBI groundout made it 5-3 in favor of the Beavers.
Another long ball, the second of the day by Amy Hommema, tied the game at five in the top of the fifth. The Beavers answered the call when Allison Radomski (Fairfield/Cincinnati Christian) legged out an infield single as Babcock crossed the dish for what turned out to be the game-winning run in the home half of the frame.
Babcock worked around a leadoff single in the sixth thanks to a double play comebacker and she set the Spartans down in order in the seventh to send Bluffton to the HCAC tournament with a 6-5 victory over Manchester who is still in the running for a berth as well.
Shelby Wade and Brooke Babcock both laced two hits in the nightcap. Babcock came on in the fifth and worked 2.1 innings of one-hit ball to earn the win as she improved to 9-10 on the season.
Bluffton will now wait to see who will join the Beavers in the HCAC Tournament which will be held on May 7-8 at the site of the school that wins the regular season championship. The winner of next weekend's tournament will then receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament the following week.