Softball soars above Clarion

Brian Hepfinger, Rocket Contributor
April 3, 2014

Led by underclassmen, the Slippery Rock University softball team (7-10, 3-1 PSAC) swept a doubleheader against the Clarion University Golden Eagles (1-10, 0-4 PSAC) on Tuesday.

SRU won the first game 4-3, but it took a complete game from senior pitcher Emily Lobdell to obtain the victory.

Lobdell had six strikeouts, and allowed seven hits, five walks, and three runs.

Clarion’s junior pitcher Shawnna Crago allowed one hit through five innings, but SRU began their scoring in the sixth inning.

Sophomore third basemen Ashley Samluk got things going by being walked, and then advancing to second base off of a sacrifice bunt from senior first basemen Breanna Tongel.

Freshman catcher McKenzie Popatak hit an RBI single to allow Samluk to score. Junior outfielder Haley Sherer then came in to pinch-run for Popatak.

Sherer scored after sophomore infielder Katie Kaiser hit a single to right field. The scoring continued with Kaiser eventually scoring off of a bases loaded walk from sophomore outfielder Megan Maloney.

The scoring and inning ended with junior infielder Taylor Welch scoring off  a bunt from freshman outfielder Eliza Sykes.

Clarion started a comeback in the top of the seventh inning, beginning with two walks and two singles.

Sophomore centerfielder Kayla Henderson and freshman pitcher Paige Baker both scored. However, Lobdell closed out Clarion with a pop up to shortstop to end the game.

The freshman for the Rock have really stepped up this season, and their teammates recognize that.

“Mackenzie (Popatak) and Eliza (Sykes) have contributed big time to the team’s success,” Tongel said. “They have been clutch on offense by getting those key hits when we need them, and they’ve also been strong defensively.”

Kaiser echoed Tongel’s comments, saying that the team’s freshman have showed a lot of promise thus far.

“The team has gained a lot of confidence in them because of their successes and contributions so far this season,” Kaiser said. “This is so important, especially when they play positions like pitcher, catcher, and center field.”

The Rock won the second game of the doubleheader 3-1. Once again, SRU was led by Popatak and Kaiser. In the second inning, Popatak singled to center field. She was hit home by Kaiser, who hit a double and advanced to third.

In the third inning, Maloney was the first to reach home for the Rock.

She began the inning by reaching first base off of a bunt and error by Clarion’s third basemen. She advanced to second base after Sykes singled to left field.

After Tongel reached first base off of a walk, Popatak singled, allowing Tongel to advance to second base, and Sykes and Maloney to score. Clarion scored its only run of the game in the fourth inning when Henderson reached home off of a groundout to the shortstop.

“I’d like to commend our pitchers, because they both pitched very well,” Kaiser said. “We also hit runners in when we needed to, which we didn’t do well against Seton Hill.”

Freshman pitcher Carly DeRose pitched a complete seven innings for SRU giving up three hits, one run, one walk and struck out five batters.

After splitting its doubleheader last week with Seton Hill University, the Green and White stayed on track with the two wins against Clarion.

“We all know that the Rock does not lose to Clarion, so we had to find a way to win,” Tongel said. “We did just that with both wins, even though the games were a little closer than we wanted.”

The Rock’s next doubleheader will be against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (10-4, 4-0 PSAC) Friday at home.

The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 2:30 pm.

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