Softball wins in walk-off fashion
February 26, 2010
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With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and hopes dwindling, junior Julie Langseth made softball the talk of Quaker Nation, launching a fastball over the right-center-field fence to give the Quakers a dramatic 5-4 victory over archrival Greensboro College Pride.The Quakers’ softball team got their season underway Feb. 17 with a doubleheader at a frigid Haworth Field. Both teams came out to play with a competitive fire that heated the field. Unfortunately, spectators in attendance were stuck taking turns warming up by a portable heater.
“Playing in that weather was miserable,” said first-year second-baseman Brandi Ingram. “It was so cold that bats were breaking from just hitting the ball.”
The Pride scored the game’s first run in the second inning when Ingram’s throw passed diving first-year shortstop Autumn Yoder as Greensboro’s designated hitter Brittany Parsons crossed the plate to score.
The Pride went on to take a 3-0 lead off shortstop Brittany Teer’s opposite field home run over the right-field wall in the top of the third. Guilford sophomore pitcher Burcham settled in after that to retire the next three Pride hitters, striking out two of them.
Guilford got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth inning when Ingram hit a double to start a two out rally, and junior third-baseman Ami Hutcherson followed her with a single of her own. As a result, Ingram advanced to third. Ingram then scored on a fielder’s choice, and Hutcherson later scored when junior Courtney Kozar was caught stealing second, serving as the decoy to cut the Pride lead to one.
The Quakers pushed across another run in the sixth off of a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at three. Meanwhile, Guilford pitcher Jessica Burcham was on cruise control, holding the Pride scoreless for three consecutive innings.
Greensboro tacked a run on in the seventh inning thanks to first-year Kimberly Blust’s sacrifice fly to give the Pride a 4-3 lead going into the Quakers’ final at-bats.
Hutcherson led off the bottom of the seventh with a bunt single. Following a strikeout, Hutcherson then advanced to second on a ground ball-out to the Pride second baseman. Keeping her cool under immense pressure, Langseth stepped up to the plate calmly and hit her clutch two-out walk-off homer that gave the Quakers their first win of 2010.
“I don’t doubt any of our hitters,” said team captain and sophomore catcher Morgan Andrews. “We didn’t care who it was; we were just glad that Julie was able to come through for us in that spot.”
With the adrenaline still pumping through the Quakers’ veins after the miraculous game-one victory, the players took to the field in game two.
“We were all still really pumped from the last game, so we were ready to play,” said Yoder.
The Quakers needed that extra energy to compete in another nail- biter with the Pride. The game remained close from the start, but it was the Pride who had a 3-1 advantage after three innings.
Guilford tied the game at three in the fourth inning thanks to sophomore Krystal Page’s RBI (run batted in) double that scored Andrews. Unfortunately, Andrews’ run was the game’s last. Because of a lack of sunlight, the umpires called the game after seven innings, declaring the game a draw.
In the doubleheader, the Quakers earned eight runs off of 14 hits and seven RBIs. While the returning players accounted for 11 of those hits, seven runs and five RBIs, first-years Ingram, Yoder and Sarah Cutright made their presence by combining for one run on three hits and two RBIs.
“This is the first year where all the players on the team are my recruits,” said head coach Dennis Shores. “They are a very diverse group and just a strong team overall.”
Team chemistry is what Shores believes is going to set his team apart from the competition.
“Swinging the bat as hot as we are is helping out a lot, too,” Shores added.
However, the Quakers need someone to step up and fill Hutcherson’s spot at third base as the returning All-ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) selection recently suffered a broken hand in a 5-3 win over Peace College on Feb. 21. Serving alongside each other as team captains, Andrews will be the field general while Hutcherson will have to get healthy as she remains a leader on the bench.
“Without the leadership of Morgan Andrews and Ami Hutcherson, we would not be where we are,” said Shores.
The Quakers are out to turn heads this season with one goal in mind: make the NCAA tournament.
“The ultimate goal is to win it all. In order to do that, you’ve got to be good and just a little lucky,” said Shores.
The Quakers return to action Feb. 28 when they travel to Averett University, and then return home to Haworth Field on March 3 for a game against Meredith College at 2:30 p.m.