GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The No. 4 Olivet Nazarene University
softball team had a one of those days. Sometimes it appeared that nothing could
go wrong…and sometimes they definitely felt like nothing could go right. In the
end, the Tigers pulled out a 15-10 win over Huntington University (Ind.) in
their opening game of the Davenport Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round. Olivet
will face the host Panthers of Davenport University (Mich.) at 11:00 a.m.
tomorrow. The winner of the 3-day, 4-team opening round tournament will advance
to the NAIA World Series.
Olivet (47-3-1) jumped out to a quick, early lead when
senior Justine Phillips (Metamora, Ill.) led the game off with a double over
the centerfielder’s head. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior
Jordy Truelock (Princeton, Ind.) and scored on a single by senior Hannah
Gardner (Frankfort, Ill.).
The Foresters (31-22) fought right back, tying it at 1-1 in
the bottom half of the inning. Things remained deadlocked until the top of the third
when sophomore Lindsey Krippel (Fairbury, Ill.) scored on a sacrifice fly by
Truelock. Huntington came back with a
fury, scoring six runs on five hits before the Tigers could stop the bleeding.
The Tigers went on their own scoring frenzy in the top of
the fifth, plating seven runs on five hits with two Forester errors to take a
9-7 lead. Truelock started the inning off with a double to deep left-center
field. A single by junior Erika Tatum (Bourbonnais, Ill.) and a walk by senior
Cheryl Sendzik (Mokena, Ill.) load the bases. Tatum scored on a wild pitch,
with everyone else advancing. The two Huntington errors results in two more
Tiger runs. Phillips doubled to score junior Megan Bulter (Frankfort, Ill.) and
Truelock picked up her second hit of the inning to score Krippel and Phillips.
Huntington wasn’t down and out yet, scoring three runs on
three hits in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead, 10-9. Tatum
homered on a 2-2 count over the wall in center field to tie things back up in
the top of the sixth. Sendzik followed
it up with a double to left field and advanced to third an infield single by sophomore
Katie Megyesi (Washington, Ill.). Sendzik scored on a single by freshman Megan
Semro before a two-run double by Phillips plated the final runs of the inning,
putting the Tigers up 13-10.
Senior Caitlin Santefort (Mokena, Ill.) came in to close
things out for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth. She recorded three outs in less than 10
pitches, allowing just one hit in the inning. The lone base runner was then
called out for failing to commit to a base after the ball returned to the
Olivet added two more insurance runs in the top of the
seventh off of another Forester error, a double by Sendzik and singles by
Megyesi and Semro. Santefort allowed just one more hit by Huntington to close
out the game.
Senior Virginia McAndrews (Wheaton, Ill.) got the start for
the Tigers, going two innings while allowing four runs on three hits. She
struck out one and walked two. Junior Lindsay Stotler (Bloomington, Ill.) came
on in relieve to pick up the win and improved to 14-1 on the season. She went
three innings, allowing six runs on six hits.
No. 1 seed Olivet will take on No. 3 seeded Davenport at 11:00
a.m., weather permitting. If the Tigers win that game, they would advance to
the championship game on Wednesday. Should the Tigers lose, they would play
again at 5:00p.m. (EST).