Bluffton softball squad sees season end in HCAC tournamentBy Tim Stried
May 5, 2003
|Special to: The Bluffton News (May 8), Alumni e-newsletter (May 6), but you read it here first.
The Bluffton College softball team won six of its last eight regular season games, but a pair of higher seeded teams ended the Beavers' late-season momentum last Friday in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Bluffton dropped a 2-1 contest to #2 seed Hanover in the tourney's opening game before being dealt a 3-1 loss by #3 seed Manchester later in the day to see BC's 2003 campaign come to an end. The tournament was hosted and won by The College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati.
Bluffton, which had been the second seed in the tournament each of the previous four seasons, carried the #7 seed into the tournament this season and sees its season end with a 15-21 record overall and a 5-9 mark in the HCAC. All-conference awards will be released at a later date.
Seniors Missy Alexander, Paula Fry, Missy Neal and Stephanie Rush will be greatly missed on next season's squad. The Beavers won seven of their 10 games played at home this season.
In the opening game of the tournament, Bluffton produced a run in the third inning as Fry, sophomore Allison Lange and Alexander all singled in consecutive at bats, with Fry scoring on Alexander's hit. Hanover wouldn't allow another run the rest of the game, however, spoiling the pitching performance of freshman Sarah Betts, who struck out six batters and scattered seven hits in seven innings. Lange ended the contest with two hits and Rush doubled.
In the second game, Neal knocked two singles and scored Bluffton's lone run on a passed ball in the second inning as Manchester held on for a one-run victory. Betts came on in relief to allow just one hit over the final 5.2 innings of the game, which was delayed repeatedly by rain.
Neal led the team in batting average this season, posting a .349 mark overall (29-for-83) and a sparkling .500 average in HCAC games (12-for-24). Lange batted .349 (.353 in HCAC) and led the squad in nearly every other statistic, including at bats (119, 3rd all-time), runs (16), hits (39, 3rd all-time), doubles (10, 3rd all-time), homeruns (3, 1st all-time, tie), RBI (17), total bases (60, 1st all-time) and slugging percentage (.504). Other offensive leaders include sophomore Mandy Snider (.322 overall, .349 in HCAC) and Rush (.241 overall, .286 in HCAC).
Nearly all of Betts' pitching statistics this season are the best-ever by a freshman at Bluffton. Her 22 appearances in 2003 are a new school record, while her 1.84 ERA (4th all-time), .188 opponent batting average (2nd all-time), 6.84 strikeouts per game (2nd all-time), 129 innings pitched (2nd all-time) and 126 strikeouts (2nd all-time) are all freshman records. She ended the season with a 10-9 record, which is the 2nd-most ever by a frosh and is tied for 4th in the single-season record book.