INDIANAPOLIS - For the second consecutive day, the Marian University softball team used stellar pitching to earn the sweep in a critical Mid-Central College Conference doubleheader. The Knights defeated the University of Saint Francis (Ind.) by 6-1 and 4-3 scores at Marian University Softball Field on Thursday afternoon.
MU improved to 32-11 on the season and 10-6 in the MCC, while USF closes the regular season with a 27-15 overall record and a 10-8 mark in conference play.
Junior Emily Gwaltney
, once again, took center stage in the opener after she threw her 15th complete game of the season to improve to 16-4 on the season. She allowed just one run on three hits and struck out a season-high 11 batters to earn the 49th win of her career.
The offense came in waves for the Knights. The game's first run came on a double play as senior Kelsey Uebelhor
scored to make it 1-0. They added three more in the bottom of the third when junior Helen Rogers
took a 1-0 pitch over the right center field wall for her ninth home run of the season. The three-run blast was also the 23rd of her career and is one short of her single-season career high of 10, which she set last season.
With a 4-0 lead, Gwaltney was coasting through the USF lineup as she was holding a perfect game through three innings of play. She made a statement in the third when she struck out the side, but the Cougars got their first baserunner in the fourth on an error to quell the perfect game bid. However, she cruised through the fifth with the no-hitter intact.
MU added one more in the fifth when Rogers brought Uebelhor home with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. The no-hit bid by Gwaltney was broken up in the sixth as a two-out bunt single gave USF its first hit of the day. In the meantime, the Knights' offense was not done as they posted one more in the bottom of the sixth.
Freshman Becca Twining
hit an RBI-single to make it 6-0 and give Gwaltney a sizable advantage heading into the final inning.
A single was sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts to give USF a baserunner in the final frame. The Cougars took advantage when Meghan Flanary hit an RBI-double to break up the shutout and make the score 6-1. Gwaltney induced a ground-out to end the game and give the Knights a one-game lead over USF in the loss column of the MCC standings.
The nightcap started as a pitcher's duel between junior Amy Tamer
and USF's Kourtney Holliday. Both pitchers held the offenses scoreless through the first two innings before MU got on the board in the bottom of the third.
Senior Emily Pusti
brought Twining to the plate on an RBI-bunt single to give Tamer the 1-0 lead. She allowed two hits and stranded two runners over the next three innings before MU posted three in the bottom of the fifth. Tragesser was hit by a pitch with one out before Uebelhor ripped an RBI-triple to make it 2-0. She scored on another RBI-bunt single by Pusti and Rogers hit a sacrifice fly to score Pusti to make it 4-0 after five complete innings.
The Cougars made it interesting as they finally got to Tamer in the top of the sixth. USF's Taylor Sherritt scored on the throw down to second on a stolen base before an RBI-single made it 4-2. A sacrifice fly made it 4-3 before Tamer caught a comeback liner to keep the one-run lead.
MU threatened in the sixth, but left the bases loaded to give USF a chance to complete the comeback. A ground-out and a fly-out opened the inning before Sherritt hit a single and stole second. Tamer induced a popup to end the game and give MU the sweep over the Cougars. The Knights are now in sole possession of fourth in the MCC.
Tamer improved to 12-5 on the season after she threw a complete game, her 14th of the season. She allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out three for her 26th career win.
Pusti led the way after she went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Marcum also had a pair of hits. Twining and Uebelhor each added a hit, while the Uebelhor also drove in a run.
The Knights will now head to Mount Vernon, Ohio on Friday afternoon for the MCC regular season finale at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. The doubleheader was originally scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. However, with rain forecast for Saturday, the two teams have moved the twinbill to 3 p.m. on Friday.