ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Ohio Dominican softball team was denied the opportunity to move to the top of the conference standings Friday afternoon as 17th-ranked Grand Valley State (Mich.) swept the Panthers, 4-2 and 4-3 in eight innings, at the GVSU Softball Field.
The Lakers, voted No. 17 in the this week's NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll, improved to 33-9 on the year with the sweep and remained atop the overall GLIAC standings at 16-6, while ODU fell to 18-22 and 12-8 in conference play to remain in a third place tie with division mate Wayne State (Mich.).
The Panthers kept the potent GVSU offense in check for much of the opener and even outhit the Lakers, 7-6, yet an early error proved costly, resulting in two unearned runs in the second inning and the ultimate difference in the game.
ODU opened the scoring in the top of the second as senior Erin Sutter (Mansfield, OH) induced a one-out walk and sophomore Caitlin Jividen (Wheeling, WV) was hit by a pitch. Freshman Rachael Stanzel (Angleton, TX) then advanced the runners into scoring position with sacrifice bunt to third and sophomore Rebekha Lucas (Laurelville, OH) brought home Sutter with an opposite field single through the left side.
With the help of the fielding miscue, GVSU took the lead with two in the second and pushed the lead to three at 4-1 with two more scores in the third thanks to an RBI double to right and an ensuing fielder's choice.
The Panthers rallied with a run in the sixth as senior Kylee Crislip (Louisville, OH) started the at-bat with a single to left, sophomore Danyelle Delligatta (Sidney, OH) doubled to left center and Jividen hit into a fielder's choice to short to score sophomore pinch-runner Brittany Seavey (Flint, MI). Stanzel also singled to leftfield to put runners at first and third, however, a routine groundball to third ended the chance, as ODU stranded a pair and finished the game with eight total runners left on base.
Stanzel suffered the tough-luck loss in the circle to fall to 11-9, despite allowing just the two earned runs on six hits in 6.0 innings.
After a scoreless first two frames in the nightcap, the Lakers came alive with a three-run third behind a two-run homer by Katie Martin, the program's No. 2 all-time career homerun hitter, and a run-scoring single down the right field line.
As the home team in game two, the Panthers trimmed the margin to 3-2 in the bottom of the third as sophomore Brooke McCartney (Salem, OH) lifted her first round tripper of the season to left center, scoring Lucas who reached on a one-out infield base hit.
The score remained until the home half of the sixth when McCartney and freshman Alex Cribari (Lyndhurst, OH) reached with a pair of singles and moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Caitlin Chaney (Newark, OH). Crislip then caught the infield off-guard with squeeze bunt to the third baseman as McCartney came home for the tying run.
With freshman pitcher Kendall Lust (Marion, OH) dialed in on the mound with only one hit allowed from the fourth through seven frames, the game moved into extras. In the top of the eighth though, GVSU found the go-ahead score as Maggie Kopas sent a two-out double to right center for the 4-3 advantage.
With no outs in the bottom of the inning, Cribari, representing the tying run, took first with a hit by pitch and eventually made it to third on Chaney's second sacrifice bunt and a groundout to the third baseman, yet was stranded 60 feet away as a harmless ground ball back to the pitcher resulted in the final.
Lust dropped to 6-10 on the season with the complete game setback, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits for the game. In just her first season, Cribari tied the ODU career mark held by Kelly Simms (2000-03) with her 16th hit by pitch of the year, while Jividen moved into fourth on the single-season charts with her seventh HBP back in game one.
The Panthers continue their northern road swing at 1 p.m. tomorrow as they head to Ferris State in Big Rapids for the conference twinbill.
Contact: Bryan Desch