The Slippery Rock University softball team hosted their home opener Saturday afternoon by taking on Lock Haven University. The Rock came out victorious in game one by defeating the Lady Eagles 8-0 in six innings but ultimately lost in game two with a final score of 4-1, despite having a seventh-inning, bases loaded rally.
Junior Brooke Dawson pitched a complete game one-hit shutout which featured four no-hit innings before Lock Haven’s Moriah Lindsey led off the top of the fifth inning with a base hit. Dawson struck out six and walked three with 86 pitches.
Slippery Rock head coach Stacey Rice called Dawson’s performance “outstanding.”
“[Brooke] is doing awesome,” Rice explained. “We are just going to keep riding her until her arm falls off, or at least until she hits a bumpy road.”
Dawson was helped in large part by her team’s run support in game one. In the home half of the first inning, junior center fielder Emily Nagle stole home when senior Caitlin Baxter stole second to give The Rock an early 1-0 lead. Later on in the inning, Baxter advanced to home on a passed ball to take a 2-0 lead going into the second inning.
There would be no more scoring for either side until the bottom of the fifth inning when junior catcher Lauren Hawley connected for a two-run homerun to give Slippery Rock a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Nagle hit a two-run double that scored juniors McKenzie Garland and Paige Flore. Sophomore Megan Brown scored Nagle on a base hit to right field and then was followed by a single by Hawley to give The Rock an 8-0 lead that ended the game early and gave Slippery Rock the victory.
Rice said that because Dawson had a low pitch count in game one, she decided to start her again in game two. Dawson lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up three hits and three runs (one earned) and striking out one in the process.
“Brooke was starting to see batters six times so I figured it was time to get her out of the game,” Rice said.
Flore took over on the mound for The Rock and pitched one a third innings before giving up a lead off homerun in the top half of the seventh inning to Lock Haven’s Chloe Kennedy. The third and final pitcher Slippery Rock used was sophomore Andria Copelli. Copelli used 14 pitches to get her team to the bottom of the seventh inning. Down by three in the seventh inning, the Green and White managed to get bases loaded with one out but could not get a runner home as Brown struck out and Baxter popped up to first base thus handing defeat to Slippery Rock.
The only run for Slippery Rock came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Nagle advanced to second on a walk and sophomore Caitlyn MacKelvey scored from third on the throw to second.
“In the first game, we were hitting and making things happen,” Rice said. “We took advantage of the runners we had on base and in the second we didn’t. That was the main difference between the two games.”
Overall, Rice said that her team played a pretty good game. There were no errors and at no point was there not an opportunity to come back and win the second game, she said.
“Whenever you are in position to win the game, you are doing things well,” Rice explained. “They bounced back from miscues, got out of innings when they needed to, and there was leadership on the mound. When that happens and we come out with an ‘L’, I can’t be too disappointed.”
Slippery Rock will travel to California (Pa.) University next Friday to take on the Vulcans in a double header. The games will be The Rock’s first Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) games of the season. Dawson is scheduled to be the starting pitcher in the first game and possibly the second game, Rice said. The first pitches are scheduled for 2:30 and 4 p.m.