Beavers clinch #2 seed as Coach Bruder wins #200
April 24, 2014
HANOVER, Ohio - The Bluffton University softball team continued its winning ways with a sweep at Hanover College on Friday, April 24. Moved up from Saturday to avoid a weather forecast wrought with rain, the Bluffton softball team earned the #2 seed in the upcoming HCAC tournament as Coach Bruder secured her 200th win at Bluffton! The Beavers swept a Panther club that will also be in the final four when the tournament kicks off in Anderson University on Friday, May 1.
Freshman Josie McElroy (Mt. Orab/Western Brown) gave the Beavers the only offense it would need when she drove a Panther offering over the wall in left center field with one out in the first following back-to-back singles by Ariana Muffo (New Athens, Ill.) and Ashley Knippen (Wapakoneta).
Two innings later, Jess Kuzara (Flat Rock, Mich./Huron) doubled to the gap in right center. She crossed the dish when McElroy reached on a Panther miscue. Carly Levindofske (Brunswick/Magnificat) made it 5-0 with her RBI single to left.
Hanover put a runner on in each of the first four innings but a pickoff and three ground ball double plays allowed Shell to face the minimum 12 batters through four. The Panthers finally cracked the scoreboard with an unearned run in the fifth, but Muffo answered right back with a leadoff homer in the sixth to cap off the scoring in game one.
Muffo and Levindofske both ripped three hits in the opener while McElroy drove in three. Muffo and McElroy scored two runs apiece. Shell was locked in, scattering seven hits and taking advantage of four double plays turned by the Bluffton defense. She struck out two and allowed just one free pass while improving to 12-5 on the season.
McElroy gave Bluffton a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning of game two with her RBI two-bagger that plated Jess Kuzara.
The home team got its offense rolling in the bottom half with two runs on two hits and a walk. The Beavers knotted it with an RBI single by Muffo in the second, but Hanover opened a 6-2 spread with four runs in the bottom of the frame.
Bluffton started to make a push in the third when Brittany Baker's (Springboro) two-run single caromed off the pitcher, making it 6-4. The Beavers managed just one hit in the top of the fourth, but three walks and two hit batters helped the visitors go up 10-6 following the six-run inning.
Baker's RBI double in the sixth tied her at the top of the career record book with 39 (Allison Lange) heading into the conference tournament. It made the score 11-8 with one inning to play. Another unearned run by the Panthers in the seventh was not enough as Bluffton closed the book on Coach Bruder's 200th win at the helm!
Kuzara scored three runs while Baker drove in three. McElroy went 2-of-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Makenzie Schmidt (Caledonia/River Valley) crossed the dish twice in game two. The defense was key again in game two as it pulled off three double plays, giving the Beavers seven in 14 innings of play on Friday evening.
Emily Scupholm (Cuyahoga Falls/Our Lady of the Elms) came on with one out in the second and got it done, allowing three runs, just one earned, in 5.2 innings of standout relief. She fanned four and allowed just two hits while improving to 2-3 on the season.
The Beavers will have the weekend off as they begin preparing for the HCAC tournament which will kick off next Friday, May 1 at Anderson University. Bluffton will be the #2 seed and play a team to be determined at 10 a.m. at Raven Field.