CINCINNATI, Oh-- The Mount St. Joseph softball team went into the double-header with the Ravens in the thick of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament race. Holding a 8-4 record inside the HCAC. The Lions would dominant game one to the tune of an 8-0 mercy-rule victory, before a hardfought 4-1 victory in game two. The sweep would clinch the Lions their first berth in the HCAC tournament in ten years.
The Mount was dominant in game one, especially starting pitcher Sarah Miller (Fischers, IN/St. Theodore Guerin). Miller has been the Lions ace all season long, and she once again pitched like it in this one. She went the distance in the mercy-rule victory, allowing only 1 hit and no runs. She did this while striking out 3 Ravens hitters. She kept Anderson off balance the entire game, as the Ravens only managed to get a runner in scoring position once against the Freshman.
Offensively the Lions were clicking on all cylinders, as all but two starters registered hits in the game. Miller helped herself going a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish, with an RBI. Freshman centerfielder Gracie Woodyard (Plainfield, IN/Avon) was also perfect at the plate for the Lions going 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored. The Lions were able to score runs in all but one inning, getting one in the first, two in the second, three in the fourth, and two in the fifth inning. The Lions lead 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning looking for two runs to envoke the mercy-rule. Woodyard collected her third hit with a one-out single into left field. Thats when another freshman MaKayla Hanes (New Paris, OH/Greenvile) took center stage, she drilled a fastball over the wall in left field for the walk-off two-run homerun, it was Hanes' first homer of her career.
Although the Lions have no seniors on the active roster the team took the time to recognize a few seniors between games. First they honored the senior class from the visiting Ravens of Anderson, each senior from Anderson was presented with a single rose from the Lions team. Next it was time to recognize Danielle Nichelson (Glencoe, KY/Gallatin Co.), who's career was cut short after suffering a severe injury last season. Dani was a key member of the Lions team in her first three seasons, both on the mound and in the batters box. Her production was missed on this years team and will be missed after she graduates.
In game two it was much of the same for the Lions. Junior Brianna Kauf (Orrville, OH/Orrville) took the ball for the Lions in game two, and just like Miller before her she was dominant. Kauf threw 5.0 innings of 4 hit, 1 run softball for the Lions. Most impressive was Kauf's control, she did not allow a single batter to reach via the walk. She was able to pick up the win, her eigth victory of the season.
The Lions offense was not as potent in game two, but coupled with the pitching of Kauf they did enough to get the win. The Lions managed only four hits in game two, two of which came off the bat of junior Olivia Quick (Sunman, IN/East Central), she also scored two of the teams four runs in the game. Miller delivered a big hit getting The Mount on the board in the bottom of the first, driving a ball over the fence for her first career homerun, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead. The Mount added two more in the bottom of the 5th inning as Quick tripled down the rightfield line bringing Alehia Tucker (Covington, KY/Holy Cross) around to score. Quick would score on a groundout by Savannah Sturgill (West Harrison, IN/East Central), settling the final score at 4-1.
Miller would come in out of the bullpen to record the final six outs, getting her sixth save of the season.
The Lions will travel tomorrow to take on the HCAC's top team the Pioneers of Transylvania. The games are scheduled to get underway at 1:00 PM.