KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The Lehigh softball team opened up its spring break trip to Florida with two tough losses Sunday at the Rebel Spring Games. Sophomore Emily Bausher struck out 14 batters in Sunday’s opener, but the Mountain Hawks fell to Eastern Illinois 4-3 in eight innings. Lehigh was unable to hold a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of game two as three errors led to three unearned runs in a 5-3 loss to North Dakota.
The Mountain Hawks (3-3-1) committed three errors in each game on Sunday with Bausher and senior Becca Bliss combining to allow just one earned run in 15 innings of work. Offensively, Lehigh totaled 10 hits in the two games with freshman Morgan Decker leading the way going 4-for-8 with two RBI.
In Sunday’s first game, Eastern Illinois scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning, capitalizing on two Lehigh errors in the process. Ally Seplak drove in a run with an RBI groundout, while Melise Brown added a double that gave the Panthers (5-6) a 3-0 lead.
Lehigh answered with three runs in the fourth inning. Freshman Alexis Watanabe led off with a single. After a walk to MacKenzie Velasquez, Decker doubled to score Watanabe with the Mountain Hawks’ first run. Two batters later, Lehigh crept within a run at 3-2 as sophomore Cassie Waggy singled home Velasquez. Senior Jacqi Kennelly followed with an RBI single that drove in pinch runner Kristin Taft with the tying run.
The game remained tied into extra innings. With the international tiebreaker rule in play, Lehigh was unable to score in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the frame, Carly Willert was placed on second base and moved to third on a sacrifice. Brooke Owens then hit a ground ball to second base and Willert beat Watanabe’s throw home to score the winning run.
Both teams had trouble making contact as Bausher struck out 14 Panthers in 7.1 innings, while Stephanie Maday fanned ten Mountain Hawks in eight. Both teams managed just four hits. Bausher fell to 1-1 allowing four unearned runs, while Maday moves to 2-3 with the win. Bausher’s 14 punchouts are one shy of her career high set last March versus Binghamton.
In game two against North Dakota, Lehigh rallied from 2-0 down with three runs in the bottom of the sixth before three errors resulted in three UND runs in the top of the seventh.
D Jantzer put UND in front with a two-run single in the top of the fifth. Lehigh answered in the bottom of the sixth as the Mountain Hawks sent nine batters to the plate. With one out, Watanabe drew a walk and junior Lizzy Odren reached on an error. Decker singled home Watanabe to put the Mountain Hawks on the scoreboard. Senior Liz Lucas then singled to score Odren. The next batter, freshman Jessica Calvini, grounded into a fielder’s choice as Decker came home with the go-ahead run.
In the seventh, North Dakota put runners on first and second with two outs. Three consecutive UND hitters reached on Lehigh errors with three runs coming around to score. Lehigh tried to answer in the bottom of the seventh as the Mountain Hawks put the tying runs in scoring position with two outs, but Lucas lined out to pitcher Michelle Frank to end the game.
Bliss (2-2) took the loss allowing five runs (one earned) on six hits. She struck out three and walked three.
The Mountain Hawks will continue action at the Rebel Spring Games on Monday when they face Akron at 9 a.m. and have a rematch against Eastern Illinois at 1 p,m.