Slow start ends in a 2-3 finish for softball at Shaw Challenge

Brian Hepfinger, Rocket Contributor
February 27, 2014

The Slippery Rock University softball team opened up there season with a 2-3 record at the Shaw University Softball Challenge last weekend.

On Saturday, SRU lost all three games.

The first matchup was against Alderson-Broaddus University. Senior pitcher Emily Lobdell threw a complete game, but the Green and White lost 0-4.

“Our defense looked good all weekend, but both pitching and hitting started slow on Saturday,” Lobdell said. “Minor adjustments will have huge impacts for the rest of our season.”

Despite scoring first and acquiring a two-run lead in the fourth inning, the Rock lost their second game against Fairmont State University 2-4.

Freshman Rikki Brown scored off an RBI-single from sophomore Ashley Samluk in the second inning and Samluk scored in the fourth inning off an RBI-single from freshman McKenzie Popatak.

Fairmont State took an unearned run in the fifth inning to start their comeback. They hit two homeruns in the top of the seventh inning that brought in a total of three runs to take the lead. Freshman pitcher Carly DeRose pitched a complete game and threw seven strikeouts.

In their third and final game of the day, Slippery Rock fell 3-4 against Concord University.

Samluk was the first to score for the Green and White and tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second with her homerun.

“I was seeing the ball very well this weekend and that was actually my first collegiate homerun,” Samluk said. “I had at least one hit in every game and that’s what one of my roles on the team is this year.”

Samluk scored again in the fourth inning, this time off an RBI-single from Popatak.

Freshman Eliza Skyes advanced to second off Popatak’s single and soon earned a run when sophomore Stacey Herzog was walked.

Slippery Rock turned the Shaw Challenge around and went 2-0 on Sunday.

In their first game, the Green and White defeated Winston-Salem State University 5-4.

Sophomore Katie Kaiser scored off an RBI-single from Samluk in the first. The Rams responded with two runs in the bottom of the first.

SRU earned three runs in the second inning to regain the lead. Popatak scored first off an RBI-double from sophomore Megan Maloney. Maloney then scored off an RBI-single from Sykes and Sykes scored off an RBI-single (bunt) from Lobdell.

WSSU tied the game 4-4 in the sixth inning but SRU would take the win after a wild pitch brought in Popatak. Lobdell would receive a no decision, while freshman pitcher Sarah Petrash won her first game in relief.

“Sunday’s games were a success for the team,” Lobdell said. “New players impressively stepped up into roles when they were called on.”

The Challenge’s final game placed SRU against West Virginia State. The Rock took a 3-2 win over the Yellow Jackets and DeRose was credited with her first collegiate win at the mound.

“There are improvements to be made within the next few weeks for myself as well as the team as a whole,” Kaiser said. “The first few games are always a great learning experience for us.”

Kaiser agreed that the tournament was a good opportunity for the team to get acclimated to playing again and facing real competition.

“I think that the tournament is a good chance for us to compete with some teams we will never see during the regular season,” Kaiser said. “It’s a chance for us to work out the kinks and figure out what we are doing well and what still needs work.”

The next few weeks of practice will be focused on refining the team’s skills and working out mistakes made at the Shaw Challenge.

“We need to string hits together at opportune times when runners are in scoring position,” Samluk said. “We have two weeks until we travel down to Kissimmee, so we have a time to make some adjustments on both ends of play.”

The Rock will spend their Spring Break in Clermont, Fl. playing in 10 games starting March 15 against the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

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