Rock softball sweeps Mercyhurst doubleheader

Rebecca Dietrich

Junior infielder Taylor Welch squares up to bunt against the Mercyhurst Lakers on Saturday.

Brian Hepfinger, Rocket Contributor
April 17, 2014

The Slippery Rock University softball team (13-16 overall, 9-7 PSAC) split a doubleheader against Mercyhurst University (12-20 overall, 6-10 PSAC) Thursday.

Mercyhurst won the first game 3-2, after a two-run walk-off homerun by Megan Smith.

 “The PSAC is a tough conference to play in,” junior infielder Taylor Welch said. “Our past couple of games we have played very well, because we have full confidence in all of the girls on the team to perform at their best.” 

SRU won the second game 9-8. The game was very back and forth, with each team scoring every few innings.

The Rock hit the ground running, scoring six runs in the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Megan Maloney began SRU’s offense with a single. Maloney then advanced to second base after Welch walked. 

Sophomore infielder Katie Kaiser singled, allowing Maloney and Welch to advance. 

Sophomore third baseman Ashley Samluk fouled out to left field, allowing Maloney to score. Junior outfielder Alaynna Beers walked. 

Senior first baseman Breanna Tongel reached first base off of a fielding error by Mercyhurt’s right fielder. Freshman infielder Caitlin Baxter continued the Rock’s scoring with a three-run homerun, allowing Tongel and Beers to both score. 

Mercyhurst scored one run in the first inning. Senior pitcher Megan Smith hit a double, and then advanced to third base off of a passed ball. Junior third baseman Becky Malaga flew out to center field, allowing Smith to score.

SRU’s only scoring in the second inning came from Welch, who homered to give the Rock a 7-1 lead. However, Mercyhurst got things going in the second inning. 

Sophomore catcher Taylor Jezuit had a bunt single to start the inning. She then stole second base. 

Senior outfielder Kayleigh Milliman hit a single, allowing Jezuit to score. Freshman shortstop Nance Khyshwaunna then  singled. Smith hit a three run homerun to drive in Milliman and Khyshwaunna. The Rock still lead 7-5. 

Neither team scored in the third inning, but SRU ended its scoring with two runs in  the fourth inning. Welch walked, and then Kaiser hit a two-run homerun. 

Mercyhurst scored one run in the fourth inning. Smith reached on a throwing error, advanced to third base, and then scored off of a wild pitch. 

With the score being 9-6, Mercyhurst attempted one last offensive push in the sixth inning to try and defeat the Green and White. 

Smith reached base again off of a single. Senior first basemen Courtney Smith then hit a two-run homerun.

SRU has been splitting doubleheader matchups regularly. They either play really well in the first game and badly in the second game, or the opposite. 

“Unfortunately, we do get the split sometimes, but the score board does not reflect how we play in those games,” freshman catcher McKenzie Popatak said. “Our team plays exceptionally well together, but unfortunately, sometimes the score doesn’t end in our favor.”

Popatak is second on the team with a batting average of .343 as a freshman, and also has 17 RBIs. 

“Being a freshman is an extreme adjustment, but it’s for the better,” Popatak said. “As a freshman, you learn new things every day from your teammates, coaches, and even yourself.”

The Green and White will face Seton Hill University on Friday, April 18 in Greensburg, PA. 

The two teams split a doubleheader matchup during their last meeting on March 29. 

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