TOWSON, Md. – It took ten innings, but the Lehigh softball team outlasted Columbia 5-4 to win its season-opener Friday in its first game at the Towson Invitational at the TU Softball Complex. The Mountain Hawks erased a 4-0 deficit to tie the host Tigers 4-4 in their second game of the day, but Lehigh’s nightcap was halted due to darkness after five and a half innings.
Senior Liz Lucas led Lehigh offensively with three hits including the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the tenth inning versus Columbia. Sophomore Cassie Waggy added two hits and drove in three of Lehigh’s nine runs on the day.
Friday’s first game saw the Mountain Hawks take the lead four times against Columbia, with the Lions answering with a run in the bottom of the frame on the first three occasions.
Lucas gave Lehigh a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a single to right field that scored classmate Rosie Roessel, who drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and took third on a passed ball.
Columbia (0-2) answered with a run in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly off the bat off of Kayla Shimoda.
Two freshmen combined to put the Mountain Hawks back in front in the top of the sixth as Alexis Watanabe doubled to left field and Morgan Decker brought her home with a single to left. The Lions answered once again, however, on a triple to right center by Nicole Borchard.
The international tiebreaker rule came into effect in the eighth inning. Senior Kristen Mitchell was placed on second base to begin the top of the eighth and with the bases loaded and two outs Waggy was hit by a pitch, allowing Mitchell to score the go-ahead run. Columbia pulled even again in the bottom of the eighth on a single by Emily Snodgrass.
After neither team was able to score in the ninth, Watanabe opened the tenth on second base. With runners on the corners and one out, Lucas drove in Watanabe with a single, and Waggy followed to right, scoring Decker with what proved to be a key insurance run to give Lehigh a 5-3 lead.
Columbia pulled back within one on a two-out RBI single by Borchard but senior Becca Bliss got Snodgrass to fly out to right field to end the game.
Bliss threw all ten innings in the circle for Lehigh, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits, while walking one and striking out eight.
Brooke Darling threw all ten innings for Columbia and took the loss after allowing five runs (two earned) on seven hits. Darling walked five and struck out three for the Lions.
Lucas finished with three of Lehigh’s seven hits on the opener.
In Lehigh’s second game of the day an error led to three unearned Tiger runs in the top of the first. Olivia Yarborough reached on an error to lead off the game for Towson. Sophomore Emily Bausher retired the next two Tigers, but a walk and a stolen base put runners on first and second with two outs. Bina Abbott drilled a three-run home run to center to put the Tigers up 3-0 after half an inning.
Towson (6-9-1) extended its lead as Hailey Balk scored on a passed ball in the top of the third, but Lehigh, the designated home team, responded with a run in the bottom of the frame. Roessel led off with a single to shortstop and moved to second on a ground out before scoring on a two-out RBI single to left by Waggy.
Lehigh pulled even with another two out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Decker led off the frame with a double and after a hit batter sandwiched between two strikeouts, junior Lizzy Odren doubled to left center scoring Decker and freshman Jessica Calvini to cut the deficit to 4-3. Sophomore Brandi Hawkins then singled to left, scoring Odren with the tying run.
Junior Ashley Quigley relieved Bausher in the fifth and worked out of trouble in the top of the sixth before the game was called due to darkness after five and a half innings.
Lehigh out-hit Towson by an 8-3 margin with Hawkins pacing the attack with two. Bausher went the first four innings in the circle, allowing just one earned run on three hits, while striking out three and walking two. Quigley allowed a pair of walks but tossed two scoreless, hitless frames.
The Mountain Hawks will continue action at the Towson Invitational on Saturday with games against Iona (10:30 a.m.) and Columbia (3 p.m.)