BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh softball team opened the 2013 season with three wins in five games at the Towson Invitational last weekend. The Mountain Hawks will next embark on their annual spring break trip to the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla., where they will play ten games against eight different opponents over a span of six days.
Lehigh went 3-1-1 at Towson last weekend picking up two wins over Columbia, splitting two games against Iona and playing the host Tigers to a 4-4 tie. As a team the Mountain Hawks batted .279 last weekend, and averaged 4.6 runs per game. Lehigh’s pitchers threw to a 2.10 ERA in 33 innings of work, but just half of the Mountain Hawks’ 20 runs allowed were earned.
On Monday sophomore Emily Bausher and freshman Morgan Decker were named the Patriot League Pitcher and Rookie of the Week, respectively.
Bausher allowed just one earned run in nine innings of work, going 1-0 with nine strikeouts in two appearances. Lehigh also received strong pitching from senior Becca Bliss, who was 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA and struck out 12 batters while walking just one in 18 innings.
Decker, who started all five games at third base, batted .364 last weekend (4-for-11) and was one of three Mountain Hawks to drive in four runs at the TU Invitational. Sophomore Cassie Waggy also went 4-for-11 at the plate and owns Lehigh’s only home run of the season thus far. Junior Lizzy Odren was just 2-for-7 in four games last week, but both hits were two-run doubles as she also drove in four runs on the weekend. Lehigh has received a number of solid offensive contributions from freshmen early on, as MacKenzie Velasquez has started 5-for-12 and Alexis Watanabe is 5-for-15 with a team-best six runs scored.
Lehigh also showed good patience at the plate as the Mountain Hawks drew 21 walks in the five games. Decker led the way after drawing six bases on balls.
The six-day, ten-game stretch begins Sunday when Lehigh squares off against Eastern Illinois (1 p.m.) and North Dakota (3 p.m.). The Panthers, out of the Ohio Valley Conference, have opened the season with a 4-4 record and will play a doubleheader at Georgia State on Thursday on the way to Florida. North Dakota is in its first season in the Big Sky Conference. UND enters spring break at 2-10 overall but has played top competition including two losses to Arizona State and one to Baylor.
On Monday, Lehigh will take on Akron out of the Mid-American Conference at 9 a.m. before playing a second game against Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. Akron is 5-6 on the season and will play eight games in Florida beginning Friday.
Lehigh will play two games for the third day in a row on Tuesday as the Mountain Hawks will take on Butler (3 p.m.) and Robert Morris (5 p.m.). The Bulldogs are off to a 2-9 start this season with wins over Morgan State and Tennessee State, while Robert Morris, the defending NEC regular season champion, is off to a 5-5 start this season.
Following a day off Wednesday, Lehigh will face Saint Peters (3 p.m.) and Wagner (5 p.m.) Thursday afternoon. The Peahens come into spring break at 2-10 while Wagner is 0-4 heading into the USF Under Armour Showcase, where the Seahawks will play five games prior to the Rebel Spring Games.
The Mountain Hawks will conclude their trip with two games Friday, a rematch with North Dakota at 11 a.m. and Lehigh’s third game of the season against Columbia at 1 p.m. Lehigh beat the Lions twice at the Towson Invitational, winning 5-4 in ten innings on March 1 and 3-2 in five innings on March 2.