Bluffton splits a pair on Thursday
March 10, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The Bluffton University softball team came out with vengeance and determination as they handily defeated Montclair State, 10-1, in mercy-rule fashion. Montclair is just two years removed from a 2014 campaign that saw the Red Hawks go 42-8 and compete in the Division III World Series. A quick start propelled the Beavers to a 4-3 mark on the season while the Red Hawks dropped to 4-3.
Bluffton sophomore JESSIE MADZIA (Massillon/Tuslaw) started the first inning off with a double to get in scoring position. The Beavers took a 1-0 lead when JOSIE McELROY (Mt. Orab/Western Brown) poked an RBI single up the middle to bring home Madzia. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for CHELSEA ZOLTOWSKI (Sylvania/Southview) who smacked a double to right center, clearing the bases and giving the Beavers a 4-0 lead after one inning.
The second inning was the only scoreless frame of the game as Bluffton added two runs in each of the last three innings, leading to the mercy rule. The third started out with BRITTANY HUFF (Clayton/Northmont) lining a leadoff double with the first swing of the inning. Josie McElroy would make the score 6-0 as she crushed a two-run shot to center field.
In the top of the fourth, McElroy hit another one out of the park with a bomb to right center, making the score 8-0 in favor of the Beavers. Bluffton was a freight train that couldn’t be stopped as they made it a 10-0 ballgame at the top of the fifth inning. ASHLEY KNIPPEN (Wapakoneta) brought home the first run of the inning as she laced an RBI single with the bases juiced. Bringing home the Beavers final run on the day was Madzia who notched another RBI single that plated CARLY LEVINDOFSKE (Brunswick/Magnificat).
Montclair State scored their first run of the contest in the bottom of the inning thanks to a wild pitch. That was all the Red Hawks could muster as Bluffton wrapped up the 10-1 victory in just five frames.
Coming up big for the Beavers was Josie McElroy with a total of three hits, two of which landed outside the fence! McElroy recorded five RBI in the victory. Also getting it done was Chelsea Zoltowski who was a perfect 3-for-3 while also notching three RBI. Jessie Madzia and Carly Levindofske each collected two hits for the Beavers.
On the hill for Bluffton was NICOLE THOMAS (Tontogany/Otsego) who improved to 2-0 after picking up the win, needing only 69 pitches thanks to the mercy-rule. In four innings of work, she allowed no runs off five Red Hawk hits while striking out three batters. Jessie Madzia closed out the game for the Beavers as should would fan one batter in the fifth.
Bluffton jumped back into action against the Thomas More Saints following their win over Montclair State. The Beavers struggled defensively as they were defeated by the Saints, 7-3, falling to 4-4 while Thomas More improved to 5-2 on the season. The loss snapped the Beavers' four-game winning streak.
Bluffton went up 1-0 when a KELSI WILSON (Pataskala/Licking Heights) RBI single picked up MAKENZIE SCHMIDT (Caledonia/River Valley) in the bottom of the second. The Saints broke out for three runs in the third off back-to-back doubles that made the score 3-1. The Saints kept the pressure up as they scored four more unearned runs in the fourth inning, opening up a 7-1 spread.
In the bottom of the inning the Beavers narrowed the deficit with two runs off five hits, pulling within four at 7-3. Kelsi Wilson recorded an RBI double to score fellow sophomore MOLLY HABERMAN (Port Clinton) following her first two-bagger of the season. Wilson crossed the dish on a single from Brittany Huff who snuck it through the right side.
Bluffton would hold the Saints scoreless over the final three frames, but the Beaver offense was unable to take advantage. Their last chance came in the bottom of the seventh after Huff laced a leadoff double to mount a potential comeback. The Beavers were unable to get anything going after that as Thomas More retired the final three Bluffton batters swinging to secure the 7-3 victory.
Bluffton was able to outhit Thomas More, 10-9, despite the loss. Leading the charge for the Beavers were Brittany Huff and Kelsi Wilson who each recorded two hits, including a double apiece and all three of Bluffton’s RBI.
Taking the loss on the mound was junior EMILY SCUPHOLM (Cuyahoga Falls/Our Lady of the Elms) who went the distance, allowing seven runs, but only three earned, on nine hits. Netting a total of 101 pitches, Scupholm fanned two batters while issuing just one free pass.
The Beavers will end their Florida trip on Friday, March 11, when they face Hiram College at 11:15 a.m. and then Muskingum University at 3:45 p.m. Both games will be staged at OCSC Field 3 and you can follow all the action from Florida on our twitter page @bluffton_sports.