Kissimmee, Fla. – The Transylvania softball team concluded its weeklong trek to the Rebel Spring Games with a pair of impressive victories Saturday.
In their first game of the day, the Pioneers captured arguably their most stellar win of the week, defeating the No. 5 nationally-ranked Luther College Norse 1-0, behind a no-hitter from junior pitcher Renae Morton.
The Pioneers followed up the victory with a 5-4 comeback victory against the William Paterson University Pioneers. The second win of the day was punctuated by a three-run comeback with two outs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off victory.
Transylvania improved to 11-5 overall after posting a 10-2 record for the week in Florida.
Taking on its highest-ranked opponent of the season, Transylvania went toe to toe with the Norse in what was a premium defensive battle.
Morton got the start in the circle for the Pioneers, and as she did for much of the week, posted a masterful strikeout to walk ratio. The difference on Saturday were the zero hits she allowed through all seven innings of gameplay.
The lone moments in which Luther reached base came in the Norse's first at-bat, as Sara Nelson commanded a walk. After Morton induced batter Ashley Burrows into a pop-up, the Pioneers pitcher hit the next Luther batter with a pitch to place two aboard. But Morton quickly retired the next two batters to escape the inning with minimal drama.
Transylvania would post what would end up being the lone score of the game in the top of the second inning, when freshman outfielder Sydney Motell lifted a sacrifice fly ball to deep center field to score senior infielder Shelby Bailey.
Bailey originally made her way to second base with a lead-off double, one of four Transylvania hits in the game.
Morton enjoyed seven strikeouts in the contest, with the first-inning walk being her only base-on-balls of the game. Two of her seven strikeouts came in the final two innings as the Pioneers wrapped up one of its signature victories for 2017.
The Pioneers endured a scoreless first four innings in its second game against William Paterson while the New Jersey Athletic Conference-based Pioneers squad grabbed a 3-0 lead after the first four and a half innings.
As an exciting week drew to a close for the Pioneers, it appeared that the last of their offensive reserves had run dry. But instead, one more dose of thrilling drama lay in store over the final three innings.
The Pioneers sliced one run off their deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Pioneers loaded the bases and freshman designated player Janelle Hynes was hit by a pitch. William Paterson achieved its final out of the inning after Transy's score to hold the Pioneers to just one run moving forward.
William Paterson returned the favor in the top of the seventh inning, gathering another run as a groundout on the right side of the infield plated a runner from third.
Trailing 4-1 heading in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, a new game began for the Pioneers.
Sophomore outfielder Shelby Gambrell stoked a flame of hope into the Pioneers with a two-out single into center field, and Hynes followed with a single to center field as well.
With two runners on base, sophomore infielder Brittany Mumford was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Anticipation intensified as Bailey forced a walk with the bases loaded, cutting William Paterson's lead to 4-2.
Sophomore pitcher Meg Liter stepped up to bat with the bases loaded, and delivered one of the most thrilling moments of her career: stepping to the plate after a 0-for-3 day, the sophomore drove a hard-hit double into center field as all three runners sprinted their way home for the 5-4 victory to finish off their trip to Florida with an exclamation point.
Liter, incidentally, also picked up the win in the circle for the Pioneers after working the final three innings.
Transylvania picked up the victory despite being outhit by William Paterson, 9 to 5. Three of Transylvania's five hits came in the seventh inning.
The Pioneers will now enjoy a weeklong break after a thunderous pace of games over the past seven days. Transylvania is next in action on March 26 versus Thomas More in Lexington. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
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