LEXINGTON, KY-- The Mount St. Joseph softball team took the field on Sunday for the final double-header of the 2018 season against the regular season Champions of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference the Pioneers of Transylvania. The Lions would get a hard fought victory in game one before falling 8-1 in game two.
Two of the top pitchers in the HCAC squared off in game one of the double-header, as each team sent their ace to the circle. Renae Morton and her HCAC low 0.44 ERA went for Transy and the Lions countered with freshman ace Sarah Miller (Fischers, IN/St. Theodore Guerin) and her 2.53 ERA. Miller won the game and The Mount dealt Morton her first conference loss of the season. As she has done in seven of eight HCAC starts Miller went the distance again for the Lions. In her seven innings of work she allowed 7 hits, and 4 runs (3 earned), while striking out 5. It was her eleventh win of the season and her sixth win during conference play.
The Lions offense managed only six hits in the game, but they made the most of them. They were led by leadoff hitter freshman Alehia Tucker (Covington, KY/Holy Cross), the shortstop went 3-for-4, she stole a base and scored a run. The Lions did all of their scoring in the fourth and fifth innings respectively. In the fourth Olivia Quick (Sunman, IN/East Central) led off the inning with a single, which was followed by Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, IN/East Central) who reached via catchers interference, Katie Tarter (Fairfield, OH/Fairfield) then to set up one of the games pivotal moments. Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, IN/Avon) stepped into the box against the toughest pitcher in the HCAC this season, with her team down 2-0 and the bases loaded, and she delivered a bases clearing triple into the right centerfield gap. The Lions would add two more in the top of the fifth inning to take a 5-2 lead into the final two innings.
Transy would add two in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut the Lions' lead to 5-4, but Miller slammed the door closed clinching the win for the Mount.
In game two the Lions sent Brianna Kauf (Orrville, OH/Orrville) to the mound looking to sweep the weekend. Kauf was solid in the early going of this one, allowing three runs over the first four innings of the game. Transy then tallied for a five run fifth inning put the game out of reach. All told Kauf's line was 5.0 innings, allowing 10 hits, and 8 runs (7 earned). She again was spot on with control not allowing a single Pioneer to reach via the walk.
The Lions began to claw back into the game in the fourth inning as they scored their first and only run of game two. Woodyard delivered again with an RBI single, driving in Miller. They could not get over the hump though. Offensively the team managed only five hits, and one run. Five different Lions managed a single hit in the game, they were Tucker, Miller, Tarter, Woodyard and Brandy Bunch (Mason, OH/Mason). When the dust settled the Lions fell by a score of 8-1.
The Lions have had a fantastic 2018 season, despite not having a senior on the active roster. They end the regular season with an outstanding 22-12 record and a 11-5 record in HCAC play. This performance has clinched the Lions the third seed in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship next weekend. The HCAC tournament will be held in Lexington, Kentucky as Transylvania University will host the top teams in the HCAC. The Mount will take on the Grizzlies of Franklin College in the 2-vs-3 matchup on Friday at 12:00 PM. Stay tuned to MSJsports.com and @msj_athletics on twitter for live game updates.