INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Fighting Leatherneck softball team opened Summit League competition at IUPUI Saturday with the two teams splitting day one of the two-day series.
The Leathernecks sit 6-13 overall and 1-1 in league play after the day, while the Jaguars stand 6-11 overall and also own a 1-1 Summit League record.
Game #1 Western Illinois 4, IUPUI 1
A season and career high ten strikeout performance from Kelsey Michelini in the circle, and solo homeruns from Jamie Goss, KC Dunne and Ashley Campbell combined for a 4-1 Western Illinois victory over IUPUI to open Summit League play.
The Fighting Leathernecks took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Goss ripped a one-ball, one-strike shot over the left field wall, marking the first hit of the ball game, and her second homerun of the 2012 season.
A hit by pitch and a single to start the first for the Jaguars put runners at first and second before an infield fly and two Michelini strikeouts ended the threat.
Catcher Lia Romeo got the hitting started in the second when she ripped a double to right center, but was stranded in scoring position keeping the game 1-0 in favor of the Leathernecks. Michelini sat the Jaguars down in order in the bottom of the second on two strike outs and a ground out.
In the top of the third inning Western Illinois tacked on another run on a solo jack to left center from Dunne. The hit marked the first homerun of the freshman centerfielder's Leatherneck career. Goss kept the pressure on earning a single to center, followed by a Megan Kelly walk but the inning end leaving both on base. Michelini then recorded all three outs, getting two Jaguars swinging and catching one looking at strike three bringing her game total to seven after just three innings of play.
Western Illinois tried to generate a two-out rally in the fourth on a Williams single down the left line followed by a bunt single by Marshall. On the play, IUPUI failed to cover third base allowing the Leathernecks to advance up to second and third before a ground out put the inning in the books with no score.
After giving up a lead off single, Michelini and company recorded a ground out and two more strikeouts to keep the Jaguars off the board and maintain the 2-0 shutout.
Goss reached base on an error to start the fifth, followed by a Kelly single to left that put runners at first and third. Designated player Teagan Walsh hit a one-out single up the middle, but Goss was caught at home for the second out of the inning. A fielder's choice failed to produce an out for the Jaguars, making it bases loaded with one out, before a ground out retired the Leatherneck effort.
After an IUPUI one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, Western Illinois defense turned a 6-4-3 double play, the first in Summit League play, to end the inning.
The Leathernecks plated another insurance run in the sixth. Williams reached after being thumped by a pitch and was moved to scoring position on a Sammy Marshall sacrifice bunt, but was caught trying to steal third for the first out of the inning. Dunne kept the scoring drive alive with a single to left and wheeled around to score on a one-out double to right center by Goss.
With one out and Jaguars at first and second, a single up the middle plated IUPUI's lone run of the game making it 3-1 after six innings of play.
The Leathernecks got the run back in the top of the seventh when Campbell sent the third solo homerun of the game out of the park to straight away center field giving the game its final score of 4-1.
IUPUI made a run for it in the bottom of the seventh, stringing together two singles to start the inning. An error on the play allowed the runners to move up a bag with no outs prompting Hailey Bickford to finish out the game for Michelini on the mound. Western Illinois got an out at home, caught a runner in a pickle and fielded a ground out make the 4-1 win final.
Michelini earned her fifth win going six innings for the Leathernecks and Bickford picked up her first save of the season pitching out of a jam in the seventh.
Goss went two-for-three with two RBI to lead Western Illinois. Dunne and Campbell each picked up one RBI going two-for-four and one-for-four, respectively.
Game #2 IUPUI 8, Western Illinois 6
Heading into the seventh, Western Illinois was trailing to IUPUI 8-3. The Leathernecks sparked a comeback but fell short dropping game two of the double header by a final score of 8-6. Teagan Walsh was tagged with the loss, her first of League play and third of the season.
It was Western Illinois who scored first staking a 1-0 early lead in the top of the first. Sammy Marshall got the inning started with a leadoff bunt single and promptly swiped second base to reach scoring position. After Dunne moved her up another 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt, she came in to score beating a play at the plate on a fielder's choice by Goss.
After a scoreless bottom of the first and second inning, IUPUI began an offensive surge. Two singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases and a hit by pitch brought in the first Jaguar run of the day. A two-out double to left center plated two more runs giving IUPUI a 3-1 lead.
Marshall led off the third with a walk and a stolen base, but was stranded in scoring position. IUPUI took over with a solo homerun to start the bottom of the inning making it 4-1. Two consecutive walks and a double steal followed putting Jaguars on second and third with one out. A two RBI double brought the score to 6-1 in favor of IUPUI.
The Leathernecks began to chip away at the five run deficit with a solo homerun to center field by Campbell, her second homerun of the day and third of the 2012 season.
IUPUI earned a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth and moved the runner up to third on a sacrifice bunt and ground out. A single through the right side plated the run bringing the score to 7-2.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Goss smacked her second solo homerun of the day, but the Jaguars got the run back in the bottom of the fifth making it 8-3 IUPUI.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Western Illinois began a comeback charge in the top of the seventh. Briana Williams singled to open the frame, Marshall followed with a bunt single and KC Dunne came through in the clutch sending a three-run shot over the wall in left field prompting a Jaguar pitching change. A walk and a hit by pitch followed by a Walsh single put Leathernecks on second and third with one out. A fly out and a hard line-out ended the rally and made the final 8-6 Jaguars.
Marshall went two-for-three in the game picking up two stolen bases. Dunne turned in three RBI going one-for-three, Goss picked up two RBI going one-for-four at the plate and Campbell earned one RBI going one-for-four.
Western Illinois takes on IUPUI on Sunday (March 11) to determine the Summit League series winner. First pitch is set for noon.