Bluffton tosses two shutouts on day one in Florida
March 1, 2015
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
FORT MYERS, Fla. - With sunny skies and warm weather reigning supreme in Fort Meyers, Fla., the Bluffton University softball team strutted its stuff as the Beavers defeated Newbury College, 5-0, in their first game of the season. Bluffton jumped over to Field 1 at the Century Link Complex and continued to impress as the Beavers shut down Clark, 8-0, in five innings for a 2-0 start to the season.
The Beavers went to work quickly as MAKENZIE SCHMIDT (Caledonia/River Valley) made her presence felt right away when the freshman beat out an infield single. Bluffton senior ARIANA MUFFO (New Athens, Ill./New Athens) pounded a deep double to left, plating Schmidt to give the Beavers a 1-0 advantage after the first inning.
Bluffton put up two more runs in the third inning after an ASHLEY KNIPPEN (Wapakoneta) double sent Schmidt scurrying home again, and a single by JESSICA KUZARA (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) picked up Knippen. It was a 5-0 game after a two-run double to left field by Knippen scored BRITTANY HUFF (Clayton/Northmont) and Schmidt in the fourth inning. Bluffton worked around a pair of hits in the sixth en route to the opening-game shutout of the Nighthawks..
The Beavers were led offensively by Ashley Knippen who went 2-for-2 at the plate with two doubles and three RBI. Makenzie Schmidt went 3-for-4 and scored three of Bluffton’s five runs on the day despite not hitting a ball out of the infield. Another Beaver standout was Jessica Kuzara who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Chloe Shell (Covington) went five innings for Bluffton and allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out two for her first win of the season. JESSIE MADZIA (Massillon/Tuslaw) closed out the game for the Beavers as she worked the final two innings, firing two strikeouts with one walk.
Bluffton took on Clark University in game two, improving to 2-0 after an 8-0 run-rule victory. The Beavers again plated a run in the first after a squeeze bunt by Ariana Muffo pushed Ashley Knippen across the dish. A two-run dinger by freshman CARLY LEVINDOFSKE (Brunswick/Magnificat) in her first collegiate trip to the plate was the highlight of the second inning, capping a superb 12-pitch at-bat that saw her foul off seven pitches before her bomb to straightaway center!.
The Beavers added another run in the second when EMILY KOLEZYNSKI (Strongsville) scored on a throwing error. Bluffton was on a roll as the Beavers plated three more runs in the third for a commanding a 7-0 lead. The inning started off with a triple by Muffo, who walked in following a single by Jessica Kuzara. An RBI double by BRITTANY BAKER (Springsboro) scored Kuzara, and a wild pitch allowed Baker to cross the dish for Bluffton's third run of the inning.
After a quiet fourth frame, Bluffton put another run up in the fifth to end the game via the mercy-rule when Levindofske's ground ball to second scored JOSIE McELROY (Mt. Orab/Western Brown) who opened the inning with a double to right center.
The Beavers were solid at the plate, collecting seven hits in the victory. Carly Levindofske was 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, including the game winner. Also pounding out hits for the Beavers were Muffo and Kuzara who each went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run.
Emily Kolezynski was outstanding on the mound under the Florida sun as she tossed all five innings, limiting Clark to just two hits while striking out four.
The Beavers will look to continue their hot start as they battle Kenyon College at the Century Link Complex on Monday, March 2, at 9 a.m.