Transylvania softball splits with Franklin in battle of top HCAC teams

Renae Morton hurling

Lexington, Ky. – In a battle of top squads in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, the Transylvania softball team split a Tuesday doubleheader with the Franklin College Grizzlies, taking a 10-inning 1-0 victory in game one before the Grizzlies responded with a 10-0 win in six innings to close out the night at Hall Field.

The first-place Pioneers saw their season-high 11-game winning streak come to an end with the game two loss to Franklin to drop to 7-1 in conference play, but maintained a one-game lead over the Grizzlies, who moved to 6-2 in the HCAC standings for possession of second place following Tuesday's games.

Senior pitcher Renae Morton claimed a thrilling win in one of her signature performances, going the distance in game one for a 10-inning complete-game victory. Morton registered a season-high 14 strikeouts, allowing no runs and just two hits on the afternoon.

The Pioneers dealt Franklin ace Olivia Paszek her first loss of the season as the Grizzlies' starting pitcher allowed the only run of the game in the 10th inning on a sacrifice fly RBI to junior designated player Jessica Powell.

Both Paszek and Morton put together one of the duels of the season as neither ace allowed a baserunner before the fifth inning. Both the Pioneers and Grizzlies were able to finally put a respective runner aboard in the fifth inning, but could not advance any further.

The stalemate lasted throughout the regulation seven innings and beyond. Franklin was able to advance a runner to third base in the top of the ninth inning but the Pioneers' defense held firm to strand the lead baserunner. Despite a quick retiring of the side in the ninth inning for Franklin, Morton returned the favor in the top of the 10th inning to the Grizzlies.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, junior outfielder Shelbi Poehlein produced just the third hit of the game for the Pioneers, moving the tiebreaker rule runner in freshman infielder Cece Wittry to third base. Powell was able to score the first and game-clinching run of the game on a deep fly ball to right field, allowing Wittry to tag up and score for the walk-off win.

In all, Morton went 10 innings, facing 32 batters, allowing only two hits, no walks, and 14 strikeouts.

The Pioneers could not continue their game-ending fortune in game one as the Franklin bats erupted in game two to the tune of 15 hits. The Grizzlies secured a 2-0 lead to kick off the first inning before pouncing on the Pioneers for four more runs in the third inning for a 6-0 advantage after three frames.

The Grizzlies took advantage of an error to plate another run in the top of the fourth inning before using a final three-run outburst in the sixth inning to put the game away in six innings.

Freshman pitcher Kameron Bowling absorbed the game two loss to drop to 6-2 on the season, yielding four earned runs and tallying a strikeout and zero walks in two innings of work.

The Pioneers mustered eight hits in the second game of the night, with six different players going 1-for-3 from the plate.

With the 1-1 outcome on Tuesday, the Pioneers moved to 21-5 overall on the year.

Transylvania returns to play on Saturday, April 14 to visit HCAC opponent Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio. First pitch of the Saturday doubleheader is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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