Wilmore, Ky. – After conceding game one of an afternoon doubleheader to the Defiance College Yellow Jackets, the Transylvania softball team responded with an inspiring game two victory to take one of two wins Saturday afternoon at the Kirkland Complex.
After splitting a pair of games with the Yellow Jackets, Transylvania moved to 20-9 overall, and 6-2 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. The Pioneers currently sit in a tie for first place in the conference standings with Mount St. Joseph.
The Pioneers fell 3-1 to Defiance in the first game of the day, despite outhitting the Yellow Jackets 8 to 3. Transylvania rebounded with an impressive 4-3 win in the second game as the Pioneers were rewarded with four unanswered runs off of 10 hits.
The first meeting of the day between Transylvania and Defiance appeared to be shaping up in the Pioneers' favor, as Morton retired the top of the side in the first inning. The Pioneers got on the board in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double from sophomore outfielder Shelbi Poehlein that scored sophomore outfielder Shelby Gambrell to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
The 1-0 advantage would be the lone notch on the scoreboard all the way until the sixth inning as the game belonged to both pitchers. Morton's rhythm remained consistent as she rang up five batters through the first three innings.
The Pioneers, however, were unable to add to their lead, stranding six runners from innings three through five to keep the Yellow Jackets in the game.
Defiance took control of the game in the top of the sixth inning by putting two runners aboard, one on a hit by pitch and another via a base-on-balls. A double from Defiance's Jackie Hartman saw two Jackets score the go-ahead runs, and an error on the relay from center field opened the door for another ensuing Defiance run on a sacrifice fly RBI. By the time the dust had settled, Defiance had created a 3-1 lead.
The Pioneers attempted a rally in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings but fell short. Morton took the loss in a complete-game, eight-strikeout performance. Gambrell led the Pioneers in game one with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate.
The Pioneers aimed to put the game one loss behind them, and it transpired into a longer journey than some might have expected. Defiance continued its momentum from game one with a three-run inning to lead off the ballgame, quickly putting the Pioneers in a 3-0 hole.
The Pioneers remained determined, bolstered by the long relief performance of sophomore pitcher Tayler Thompson, who entered the game in the second inning. Thompson's pinpoint performance lasted five innings, entailing zero earned runs allowed and three strikeouts.
Transylvania retook momentum in the third inning by delivering six consecutive hits. Junior outfielder Destiny Garcia stoked the flames of a comeback with a one-out single, and was joined by Gambrell, who fired a shot up the middle to put two runners on. Freshman catcher Janelle Hynes became the third Pioneer to deliver a hit, singling to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, sophomore infielder Brittany Mumford delivered a hard-hit liner that scored Garcia for Transylvania's first run of the game. Poehlein then followed with a single to score Gambrell, cutting Defiance's lead to 3-2. Senior infielder Shelby Bailey capped off the inning with an RBI single to score Hynes and knot up the contest at 3-3.
With the score tied into the bottom of the fifth inning, Poehlein delivered an RBI single that scored Mumford from second bases for the go-ahead run.
Thompson worked one more inning of three-up, three-down softball before Morton came into the game in the seventh to shut down the final Defiance threat and pick up the save.
Mumford, Poehlein, and Bailey each had two hits in the win, with Poehlein collecting two RBIs.
The HCAC schedule is now halfway completed for the Pioneers, with remaining series against Anderson, Hanover, Mount St. Joseph, and Manchester awaiting them in the rest of March.
Before the Pioneers resume their HCAC slate, the softball team will pause for finals before resuming play next Thursday at home against Spalding University. An official site for that game is still to be determined. The doubleheader against Spalding is set for a 3:30 p.m. start.
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