WEST POINT, N.Y. – After dropping the opening game of the series 2-0, the Lehigh softball team bounced back with a 6-0 shutout of Army Saturday at the Army Softball Complex. Junior Becca Bliss threw a two-hit shutout in the nightcap and senior Julie Fernandez went 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Mountain Hawks, who improve to 35-17 on the season, and 16-2 in league games.
The Mountain Hawks lead Army (34-16, 14-4 PL) by two games in the standings with two games remaining tomorrow. Lehigh can clinch the Patriot League regular season title with one win on Sunday, while an Army sweep gives the Black Knights the championship.
Lehigh was able to bounce back from the game one loss thanks to Bliss’ second two-hitter this week and her eighth shutout of the year. Bliss retired the first 12 Black Knights she faced and for the game faces just one over the minimum, striking out two and walking none as she improves to 16-6 on the season. Army spoiled the no-hit bid with hits by Alexis AuBuchon and Reanna Johnson in the fifth inning, but a strikeout-pickoff double play got the Mountain Hawks out of any trouble.
Offensively, Fernandez shook off a hitless game one to lead Lehigh at the plate in the nightcap. In the top of the first, senior Audra Wood singled with one out and moved to second on an error before Fernandez brought her home with a single to right. The Mountain Hawks capitalized on a leadoff walk in the second as freshman Emma Capetz reached and later scored on a fielder’s choice to give Lehigh a 2-0 lead.
Lehigh added to its lead in the fourth as Capetz led off with a double and then moved to third on a sacrifice. After a walk to junior Kristen Mitchell, senior Jen Colquhoun delivered a pinch-hit RBI single to score Capetz and put the Mountain Hawks up 3-0. Colquhoun did not start either of Saturday’s games after suffering a leg injury late in Lehigh’s game-two win over Colgate on Wednesday. Junior Rosie Roessel added a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Mitchell to put Lehigh up by four.
Fernandez doubled to lead off the fifth but was stranded; then, in the seventh, she followed up a Wood leadoff single with a double to right, driving home her fellow senior captain to give Lehigh a five-run advantage. The double was Fernandez’s 21st of the season, tying her with teammate Liz Lucas for the Lehigh and Patriot League single season record. Lucas had 21 two base hits in 2011. Fernandez later scored Lehigh’s sixth run on a sacrifice fly by senior Tenley Halaquist.
With three hits on Saturday, Fernandez now has 254 for her career, putting her three behind Stephanie Digneo ’03 for the Lehigh and Patriot League career record.
In Saturday’s opener, the Mountain Hawks were stymied by Army’s Morgan Lashley, who started both games of the doubleheader for the Black Knights and is now 30-12 on the season. Lashley limited Lehigh to just four singles, while striking out five and walking two. Mitchell had two of Lehigh’s four hits.
Lehigh had two on and nobody out in the first inning, but Lashley got out of the jam with a flyout and a pair of strikeouts. The Mountain Hawks also threatened in the sixth, but another strikeout and a flyout to left ended the threat.
Army got to freshman Emily Bausher for two runs in the first inning and those runs went on to be the only runs of the opener. Alex Reynolds hit into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice to bring home Army’s first run, and two batters later Bausher hit Ali Cleinmark with the bases loaded to force in a second run. Bausher fell to 16-10 allowing the two runs on four hits while striking out five and walking two.
Lehigh and Army will wrap-up their four-game series with a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. from the Army softball complex. The Mountain Hawks need just one win to clinch their first Patriot League regular season title since 2009 and earn the right to host the league tournament.